20% of American children own a mobile phone, says report

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Twenty percent of American children aged 6-11 own a mobile phone, according to data released January 5.

The research suggests that ownership amongst children has jumped by some 68 percent in the past five years; in 2005, only 11.9 percent had their own phone. In children as young as six to seven, ownership was 6.9 percent, but the highest figure was 36.1 percent amongst ten- to eleven-year-olds, whose usage has increased by over 80 percent since 2005.

"This large increase in cell phone ownership, particularly among boys, comes as more wireless providers are targeting parents through feature-rich, kid friendly phones such as Disney Mobile's LG Phone and the Firefly Communications FlyPhone," said Anne Marie Kelly, from consumer research firm MRI, which conducted the study.

Overall, 88.1 percent used their phone to call their parents, and 68.1 percent used it to call friends. The survey found that 55.7 percent owned a phone for "emergency purposes" whilst 54.1 percent used their phone for text messaging. However, boys and girls own phones for different reasons, according to the study, with girls more apt to make calls and send text messages while boys are more likely to instant message, access the internet and download games, music and video.