Mobile is child’s play – parent concerns mean children are getting mobile phones earlier

Today’s children are growing up with smartphones and are likely to master using the devices. Naturally, advertisers are keen to reach this audience. To find out more about how children use their devices and when they are given their first smartphone, Nielsen recently conducted its Q4 2016 Mobile Kids Report.
Almost half (45%) of kids are getting their first mobile service plan between the ages 10 to 12. By the age of 10, 22% already had a service plan, and another 16% got a mobile plan as early as 8 years. Mobile kids tend to be more male (56%) than female (44%), with one in five being Hispanic. A majority of 93% are sharing the same plan as their parents. Another 72% have all mobile wireless services that include voice, messaging but also data.
The survey found that getting in touch with their children was the prime reason for kids below the age of 13 years to own a mobile phone (90%). Tracking a child’s location was important to 80% of parents, and 66% mentioned that their kid had been wanting a wireless service.
However, getting a phone isn’t an easy decision for most parents. Indeed, 72% of respondents had concerns that the device could become a distraction in their kids’ lives, whilst 71% worried that their children would spend too much time on the devices.
Another concern is over the type of content that children will be exposed to (68%), whilst responsible usage also posed a challenge for 67% of parents. Parents generally wish for manufacturers and networks to improve safety controls to be able to block content (55%), control limited access (48%) and opt for better service plans for children (34%).
The top mobile activities for kids who own phones include text messaging (81%), downloading apps (59%) and playing games as well as accessing websites (53%).
A recent study by Totally Awesome of children in the APAC region found that they are more likely to use their smartphones in the evening than watch TV. Interestingly, over half of the 2,154 parents surveyed said they bought an item for their child after s/he had seen it online. Nearly half of children (45%) looked up products they had seen in an online advert. And both TV and mobile Internet adverts are keeping kids talking.