A new research study by Telstra reveals that close to 50% of Australian parents are considering gifting their children smartphones as Christmas presents. While some of the parents felt that their children will be safer with smartphones, others pointed out the need for connectivity, communication, and independence as the major reasons to buy their children smartphones.
When it comes to decisions with no clear-cut answers, it is always difficult to reach a consensus. The same scenario was witnessed in the research where parents were not quite sure of the right age to give their children the first smartphone. 24% of the parents surveyed believed that age 12 was the best to introduce a smartphone into their children’s pockets.
The main reason why Aussie parents would go out of their way to get their children smartphones was so that they can be safe while out of their homes. Close to two thirds of parents affirmed this. Mums and dads feared that their children were not as prepared for balanced smartphone usage with 14% wary that their young ones would exceed their data usage limits.
Introducing a smartphone into children’s lives is not an obvious process. 87% of the parents who participated in the study said they needed additional information to enable them to do this.
What Telstra’s Christmas Survey Found
Interesting findings came into the open thanks to the study. Below are some of the topical areas and the numbers backing them.
- Technology Top on Wish List – Almost half (45%) of the parents said the top item on their children’s wish list was a smartphone. Only 24% said their children would prefer a tablet instead.
- The Smartphone Excitement – As a way of making the smartphone gift a surprise to their children, 45% of parents were contemplating putting the smartphone under the Christmas tree.
- The Right Age for Mobile Phones – There was no consensus on the right age for kids to own smartphones, but 24% of parents said 12 was tenable.
- Safety Concerns – A majority of parents who contemplated gifting their children smartphones argued that when they are out of the house, these gadgets will help them stay safe.
- Two Way Communication – The biggest benefit parents cited for buying their children a smartphone is the connectivity advantage. Whenever they need to, parents can contact their children and vice versa. The research also established that 68% of parents contact their children at least once daily using their smartphones. 17% of them touched base regularly during the day.
- Enhanced Independence – 67% of mums and dads believed that a smartphone will give their children greater independence and at the same time helping them stay connected to the family.
- Mode of Connection – 71% of Aussie parents communicate with their children through text messaging. More than half (54%) preferred calling and 27% were comfortable using messaging apps.
- Data Addiction Concerns – The fears that children would spend so much time on a smartphone were expressed by about a third of parents. 14% of them were concerned the whole issue of giving children smartphones will be expensive, citing device damage and exceeding data limits as the major expense drivers.
- Digital Discussion – 24% of parents were not quite confident about their ability to teach their children on safe and responsible smartphone use. Close to 90% welcomed more information and tools that will help in holding constructive conversations with their children concerning smartphone use. However, 12% opined that the best way to teach their children to adopt healthy smartphone habits was through them leading by example.
According Jackie Coates, General Manager Telstra Foundation, smartphones are gradually introducing a new communication language in the contemporary family. This language is characterised by shorthand and acronyms such as TTL and BRB which mean talk to you later and be right back respectively. Apart from the language, smartphones are also connecting families in new ways that could not be imagined in the past.
The concept of connected families and independence particularly for young people is amazing. Through smartphones, parents are always in the know about their children and where they are at any one given time. From the outset, the research seems to suggest that parents feel smartphones are the best devices for their children and if the information and education gaps can be closed, then all will be well.