Almost half of Australian parents are considering buying their child a smartphone for Christmas, new Telstra research has shown.
The decision to purchase a smartphone comes with great consideration – and safety, both online and offline, was front of mind.
The research found children aged 12 were most likely to be getting their first smartphone, with a quarter (24 per cent) of parents believing this was the right age to give a child their first device.
Almost two-thirds of parents (61 per cent) said the main reason for giving their child a smartphone was to keep them safe when they were out of the home.
Mums and dads were also wary about smartphone safety and balanced usage. Parents’ top smartphone concern was their child would spend too much time on their device (32 per cent), followed by breakage woes and excess data usage (14 per cent), and online safety worries (12 per cent).
Almost nine in 10 parents (87 per cent) said they would like more information about how to introduce a smartphone into their kids pocket safely.
Here are the key findings from Telstra’s Christmas survey:
- Tech on top: 45 per cent of parents said a smartphone is top of their child’s wishlist and 24 per cent said their child would love a tablet.
- Mobile mania: 45 per cent of parents said they were considering putting a smartphone under the Christmastree for their kid.
- What age is the right age: While there is no right age, 12 is the most common age for parents to give theirchild their own smartphone (24 per cent).
- Safety first: The main reason behind parents’ decision to gift their child a smartphone was to help them stay safe when out of the house (61 per cent).
- Two-way street: Parents said the biggest benefit of giving their child a smartphone was the 24/7 connectivity it offers, meaning they can contact each other whenever they need to (61 per cent).
- Connected independence: Two-thirds of mums and dads (67 per cent) believed the key benefit of a smartphone for their child was greater independence, while also staying connected to family.
- Family time, all the time: 68 per cent of parents used their smartphones to contact their child at least once a day, with 17 per cent of those touching base regularly throughout the course of the day.
- How we connect: The main way parents and children communicate using their smartphones was via text (71 per cent), while over half (54 per cent) said they call one another and over a quarter (27 per cent) used messaging apps.
- Dataddiction doubts: Parents’ primary concern about giving their child a smartphone was that they would spend too much time on it (32 per cent), while 14 per cent felt that it would end up being an expensive exercise, with their child going over their data limit and damaging the device.
- The digital discussion: Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of parents said they weren’t overly confident about being able to teach their child how to use their smartphone safely and responsibly, 87 per cent said they would welcome more tools and information that enable conversations with their children about safe smartphone use, but just 12 per cent said the best way to teach their child about healthy smartphone habits was to lead by example.
Jackie Coates, head of the Telstra Foundation said of the study: “Smartphones are introducing a new language for the modern family. I get ‘TTL mum’ (talk to you later) and ‘BRB’ (be right back), but smartphones are also creating new ways for families to communicate and connect.
“Tech is changing family dynamics. We’re seeing the emergence of the ‘connected family’ and ‘connected independence’ for young people. Two-thirds of parents said the main benefit for children owning a smartphone was to give them greater independence – while staying connected with family.
Coates said more than half of parents said smartphones have made it easier to connect with their family than when they were a child themselves.
“And about 70 per cent of parents said they now communicate with their kids at least once a day via a smartphone – with text messages the most popular way of connecting, followed by calls and chat-apps – and 18 per cent said their child had used a smartphone to tell them something they couldn’t say face to face.”