Parents think children should get first phone aged 11, study finds

A majority of parents said they feel anxious every time their child uses their phone

Fran tuckey
Thursday 21 October 2021 21:28
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Parents believe their kids should be allowed to have a phone at the age of 11 - but should not access the internet without guidance or blockers until 13.

A study of 1,000 parents revealed they want full control of all aspects of the device until their child reaches 14, after which they can have complete privacy.

However, Facebook and YouTube are considered fine to be used at 12 years of age, despite the two platforms not allowing children to sign up before 13.

But they accept their kids should not use other social media platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok until they enter their teenage years.

And parents admit they would think nothing of checking their child’s device for use and activity until they reach 13.

However, despite the ideals, many of those polled who have a child between the ages of eight and 10 years old say they already own a smartphone.

The survey was carried out by EE, which has created the PhoneSmart Licence – a free online programme that aims to help young people use phone technology safely.

A spokesman for the provider said: “We all want to be able to protect our children but we can’t always hide them from everything that they may come across online.

“Parents can be easily worried as they might not be as clued up with technology compared to their children, so it is all a learning curve.

“It is important to talk to your children to ensure there is no language barrier between you both and they feel like they can confide in you if they see something online that they shouldn’t.

“If your children understand the dangers of being online then that is the first step towards ensuring they have a healthy and safe relationship with both you and their online activity.”

Parent, singer, actress and ambassador for the campaign, Louise Redknapp, added: “There are so many things to consider when giving your child a phone. It really is a minefield.

“The scariest thing is, once the phone is in their hands, the parent no longer has control over what they’re seeing or accessing.

The responsibility shifts to them, and that is huge. It’s a really big decision to decide when the time is right.”

The poll also found that some of the reasons parents enabled their children to have a phone was so they could contact them in case of an emergency, they started secondary school and because all their friends have one.

Of those who had already given their children a phone, 87 per cent had a conversation around online dangers beforehand.

When asked what scares them about their child having their first phone, worries they could see things that aren’t for their age group, that they might get bullied and not knowing who they could be talking to on them were among the most common answers.

But while Facebook, Tinder and TikTok were the apps parents were most fearful about their children using, 37 per cent claimed they don’t have blockers on their child’s smartphone.

Of those who do, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram were the sites or apps they most commonly used them for.

It also emerged more than two thirds of those polled via OnePoll agreed that it is okay to check your child’s phone when they’re asleep.

Meanwhile, a majority feel anxious every time their child uses their phone as they don’t know what they are doing on them.

While 67 per cent admitted that when their child received their first phone, they were worried they would share too much information online.

As a result, the study found that 30 per cent of parents were less worried about their child’s first day of school than they were about them getting their first phone, while 27 per cent would rather they had a boyfriend/girlfriend.

A spokesperson for EE added: “There needs to be more out there for children around online safety because parents don’t necessarily have all the tools or knowledge to teach children themselves.

“The license teaches kids about key components of phone safety across four modules including online hate, digital wellbeing, staying safe online and digital and media literacy.

“Allowing a child to have a phone can be difficult for parents but there are ways you can arm them to look after themselves.”

Reporting by SWNS

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