Given the ubiquity of smartphones among today’s kids, gaining insight on usage patterns and mobile motivations is an ongoing endeavor—and one that Nielsen has undertaken in its most recent Mobile Kids Report.
Released today, the Q4 2016 study examined smartphone usage among US kids ages six to 12, as well as their parents’ attitudes towards mobile devices and wireless services.
Among the findings is the fact that age 10 appears to be a sweet spot for mobile service adoption (22%), followed by age eight (16%). Ages nine and 11 are tied at 15%. Just under half (45%) of US kids receive a service plan between the ages of 10 and 12.
Nielsen also found that kids with mobile devices are slightly more likely to be male (56%) than female (44%).
The vast majority of these kids (93%) are on the same plan as their parents, and 72% of them have access to all mobile wireless services including voice, messaging and data.
Of the parents surveyed, 90% say being able to easily reach their child was their top reason for providing wireless service before the age of 13, while 80% admit they give their child access to wireless service in order to track his or her location.
Once kids do have access to wireless service, the top mobile activities include text messaging (81%), downloading apps (59%) and accessing websites (53%).
Parents’ main concerns about kids’ use of a mobile device include how easily the phone could be lost (77%), how much of a distraction it might be (72%) and that kids will spend too much time on it (71%). But better safety controls and features to block inappropriate content (55%) and usage controls to limit access (48%) are the best ways to address these concerns, according to those surveyed.
Additionally, 66% of parents say their child has asked repeatedly for wireless service before the age of 13.
It’s not surprising that American kids are keen to have this access, given what’s going on globally. The 2017 Childwise Monitor Report found that mobile phones are the go-to multimedia gadget for five- to 16-year-olds in the UK, while a digital media report from SuperAwesome found that 87% of kids in ASEAN markets are using smartphones.