Tuesday, 05 December 2017 10:30

Safety-first concerns as many young kids now given their own smartphones

Safety-first concerns as many young kids now given their own smartphones Image courtesy of kdshutterman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One in five kids under the age of 12 already have their own smartphones, according to a new report which found the youngsters use their phones to stay in touch, particularly those starting high school, and for when they are getting to and from school alone.

According to research by comparison website finder.com.au, the main reason these children own a smartphone is thanks to their parents having a spare one lying around, with hand-me-downs common among families.

Parents being able to contact their child as needed was the next most common reason, finder.com,au notes, citing statistics that 290,000 kids will start high school in 2018, many with their own smartphones.

The survey covered 2005 parents and with less than three weeks until Christmas, Alex Kidman, tech expert at finder.com.au, says he suspects many parents would be considering smartphones as gifts for their children – but he advises parents to take time and prepare themselves before taking the plunge.

“Over 290,000 children will start high school in 2018. If a phone is on the back-to-school list, some families might consider adding it to the Christmas present list,” he says.

finder table“It can be a mixed blessing. Your children are easier to reach, it's true. But giving your child a smartphone can open the door to many problems such as sky high bills or online risks.

“It’s important that children have a good balance between screen time and other activities. The last thing you want to do is distract them from homework or just being kids.”

While kids who travel to and from school by themselves is a leading factor for kids having a device, this is closely followed by children who started high school – and one in ten (10%) got a phone because they kept pestering their parents.

Kidman also advises parents to stick to prepaid SIMs and budget or second-hand phones.  

“If it is a Christmas present, you don’t have to fork out over $1,000 for a new iPhone.

“Just like your parents gave you a bomb of a first car, do the same with smartphones – there are plenty of budget phones out there that won’t break the bank.

“Or consider giving an old fashioned mobile phone without Internet instead to see if they can do without a smartphone for as long as possible.”

Kidman cites a separate finder.com.au survey conducted earlier this year which showed that 44% of Aussies think 13 to 15 is the best age to get a phone.

And, research reveals that a further 24% believe kids are ripe for their first phone between 10 and 12, while over a quarter (28%) think kids should wait till they are 16 to 18.

Proferring his advice that smartphones won't break the bank, Kidman suggests a range of cheap phones:

  •     Kogan Agora 8 Plus $239
  •     Nokia 3 $249
  •     Motorola G5S $429
  •     Huawei Nova 2i $499

phone tables

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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