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10 – The official age children should own a smartphone

2 September 2015

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

Internet Matters the website launched by BT, Virgin Media, Sky and Talk Talk, which aims to help parents keep their children safe online, has released its ‘Back to School’ survey which reveals the majority of parents (83%) 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 being10, 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.”

Child with smartphone

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%.

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:

Step 1: Familiarise yourself with all parental controls that are available whether that is on your home broadband, mobile, games consoles, safety modes on search engines like YouTube and Google and privacy settings on social networks

Step 2: Get familiar with what your children are doing online. Have regular conversations with them, do things together online and ensure they know they can come to you if they don’t like what they have seen online

Step 3: Ensure your children know the rules such as not giving personal information out online and only talking to real life family and friends

Step 4: Check your app store settings to make sure your child can only download apps which are age-appropriate and that they can’t make in-app purchases. You may not want to give them the password.

Bunting, further commented: “Every parent agonises over that all-important decision of when to give their children a mobile phone. Whether its 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%)
2.Nottingham (90%)
3.Sheffield (83.3%)
4.Liverpool (80%)
5.Cardiff (76.5%)
6.Edinburgh (75%)
7.Glasgow (68.4%)
8.Manchester (64.7%)
9.Exeter (62.5%)
10.Birmingham (60.7%)
11.Bristol (55.6%)
12.London (55.2%)
13.Belfast (50%)
14.Leeds (46.2%)
15.Brighton & Hove (40%)

For more information visit: http://www.internetmatters.org.
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