‘10’ – THE OFFICIAL AGE CHILDREN SHOULD OWN A SMARTPHONE

New survey by Internet Matters reveals how parents of 8-11 year olds want minimum age enforced for smartphone ownership

Internet Matters has launched its ‘Back to School’ survey which reveals the majority of parents (84.6%) would like a minimum age for smartphone ownership in the UK - with age 10 being the most popular minimum age.  With millions of children back to school this week, the new research shows that over half (65%) of 8-11 year olds own a smartphone and nearly a quarter (23%) of parents let their children take their phone to school. The survey is complimented by a Back to School e-safety advertising campaign and a new online safety guide by Internet Matters which helps parents keep their children safe online.
 
Carolyn Bunting, General Manager at Internet Matters, commented: ‘With such a huge amount of young people owning smartphones and the acceptable age of doing so being 10, parents need to be more aware than ever of what their children are doing online. That’s why we have launched our brand new online safety guide, so that parents remember these safety precautions in their back to school shopping list for their children.”
 
On the anniversary of changes to the National Curriculum in England, which made e-safety a compulsory topic for primary schools, the ‘Back to School’ survey shows parents believe the responsibility lies with them and schools to ensure their kids are safe online. Whilst nearly three quarters of parents (72%) said their primary school teaches their children e-safety, 67% of parents think it’s up to them to keep their kid’s safe online but 90% think schools could do more. Whilst mobile technology brings enormous benefits to young people, the majority of parents (82%) would prefer that mobile phones were not allowed in primary school.
 
The research highlighted huge regional variations of smartphone usage among children with Newcastle revealed to be the kids “smartphone capital of Britain” - with 90.5% of primary school children aged 8-11 owning one, compared to Manchester (65%), Birmingham (61%) and London (55%). Brighton and Hove came bottom of the table with 40%.
 
Child psychotherapist Catherine Knibbs commented: “It is no surprise that 10 appears to be the most popular age parents feel comfortable letting their children own a smartphone as this is the age that children move from a more simplistic view of the world to being more independent, think in a more complex way, and show the ability to understand the consequences of their actions. This adult-like behaviour in children makes parents feel more comfortable that their children are grown up enough to own a smartphone, but it’s a tough decision as parents need to balance this new found freedom with a level of supervision and boundary setting to ensure safe internet usage.”
 
The online safety guide which is available today at internetmatters.org/back-to-school takes parents on a step by step journey on how to ensure optimum online safety:

 
Bunting, further commented: “Every parent agonises over that all-important decision of when to give their children a mobile phone. Whether it’s peer pressure, a sign of maturity, or out of peace of mind, every child is different and parents know intuitively what the right age is for their child. Giving children this great tool comes with responsibilities both for parents and children. We would urge parents to ensure they have the conversation with their children about how to be responsible on their phones and ensure that the safety settings are in place across all their devices and search engines.”
 
Kids Smartphone League Table (percentage of 8-11 year olds who own mobile phones broken down by area) 1.Newcastle (90.5%)

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