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Kids’ cell phone ownership skyrockets

Cell phone ownership among US children has increased 68% in the past five years, according to multimedia research firm, MRI's recently-released American Kids Study.
January 6, 2010

Cell phone ownership among US children has increased 68% in the past five years, according to multimedia research firm, MRI’s recently-released American Kids Study.

A full 20% of US children ages six to 11 currently own a cell phone, up from 11.9% of children in 2005. The most dramatic increase has been among 10- and 11-year-olds (+80.5%).

And in the past three years cell phone ownership among boys, in particular, has spiked, increasing 47.6% since 2007, compared with a 17.2% increase among girls over the same period of time. What are these cell-wielding children doing with their phones? Most use their phones for basic communication tasks, such as calling their parents (88.1%), calling friends (68.1%), emergency purposes (55.7%) and text messaging (54.1%).

According to MRI, 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. The firm’s preliminary data suggests that girls are 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.

The 2009 American Kids Study included approximately 5,000 participants. In addition to surveying children in the household, MRI asked primary caregivers to fill out a separate questionnaire detailing the child’s purchasing influence and activities.

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