Nine in ten 12-year-olds now owns a mobile phone

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A new survey shows that nine out of ten 12-year-olds now owns a mobile phone. There’s steep escalation as the age rises – 24% of 9-year-olds, 51% of ten-year-olds, then 91% by age 12. Preparing for secondary school seems to be one determining factor, plus a large number of parents who think that by age 11 it’s OK for kids to have mobile phones.

Not surprisingly, 11-17 year olds who took part in the Carephone Warehouse study said they preferred texting to making voice calls, as much because it’s a more private form of communication. Two-thirds of 15-17 year olds and half of those who are younger would not allow their parents to look at their text messages or pictures.

Charles Dunstone, who is chief exec at The Carphone Warehouse Group, said, “The mobile phone has become the most important electronic device for young people in the UK today. … It provides them with a social network, a sense of security and access to entertainment. But most importantly it provides them with a sense of belonging to their peer group.”

Mobile manufacturers and resellers must be rubbing their hands with glee – a whole new generation of mobile users hooked before they become teenagers. Whilst they might not spend huge amounts of money now (unless they have wealthy, generous or very understanding parents) they may well do when they reach adulthood.

Of course, having a mobile is seen as a very modern and necessary safety device, as much as anything else, but it’s also a highly prized social status symbol for kids today.

I don’t know. When I was a lad…

Update: When I was a lad, I could tell the difference between 1 in 10 and 9 in 10. Oops.

Andy Merrett

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