Parents spend average of £136 on child’s first smartphone as cost of living crisis worsens

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  • Parents forced to cut back on school uniforms (58%) packed lunches (40%) and after-school clubs (31%)

  • Two in three (67%) are having tough conversations with their kids about money ahead of the new school year

  • Safety tops reasons for buying a back-to-school phone, as one in four parents plan to spend over £200 on their children’s phones to keep in contact 

Back-to-school season is nearly upon us, with parents already hunting down the best deals on new rucksacks, uniforms, mobile phones and stationery for their children.

With inflation predicted to reach 13% by the end of the year, parents are feeling the pinch and looking for other ways to cut back as the new school year approaches.

Research from mobile network giffgaff found that, as 10.5 million children return to school this September, 45% will be doing so on lower-cost packed lunches after switching from school dinners. Two in five parents (40%) who already provide packed lunches are planning to find cheaper options to put in them. 

Food costs aren’t the only thing parents will be cutting back on. Of those children returning to school, 45% may be doing so in their siblings’ hand-me-down clothes and 58% in less costly uniform alternatives. As the start of the new term approaches, two in three (67%) parents say they’ll be opening up about money to their children as they tighten their belts. 

New school year, new phone – one of the biggest spends

Household budgets are being strained even further as a smartphone is now seen as a back-to-school essential. Ofcom data suggests that most children own their first phone by age 11, marking the beginning of secondary school for many.

With giffgaff’s research revealing that parents spend an average of £136 on their child’s smartphone – and one in four spend in excess of £200 – this will be a significant outgoing for a number of parents in the coming weeks. 

With smartphones featuring high on the essentials list, around 70% of parents cite safety as the deciding factor when choosing to buy their child a first phone. Other reasons include trusting them to look after the device (53%) and ensuring they have one for educational purposes (30%). 

When it comes to deciding whether to buy a brand new or refurbished phone, or providing a second-hand option, parents are considering the financial, and environmental implications. A staggering 63% said the rising cost of living is impacting the phone they go for. While 41% said it was down to convenience and if they had a spare phone to give, and 22% are considering the environmental impacts of which option to go for. 

Says giffgaff’s Chief Commerce Officer, Matt Kennedy:

“As spending is squeezed, it’s inevitable that families will be cutting back. Parents looking to buy their child a phone ahead of the school year could save money by opting for a refurbished handset – offering safety, connectivity and a great quality device for a fraction of the price. At a time when everything seems to be more expensive, making savings like this could help make other back-to-school decisions a little easier.”

 

Chris Price
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