Safety Is The Number One Reason For 76% Of Parents Who Buy Kids Phones


Ting, a top rated postpaid MVNO service and a division of Tucows Inc., revealed the results of its Ting Digital Family Lifestyle Survey, giving insight into parents' thoughts, concerns, habits and rules around their kids' mobile phone use. The survey covers topics that are important to those navigating parenting in the mobile digital age, including phone safety, content consumption on phones, rules around phone use, and the cost of keeping the family mobile. 1,565 parents with children under the age of 18 who have cell phones responded to the survey.

Nearly 48% of Smartphone Shoppers are parents with children living at home, reports AudienceSCAN. Of those kids, 9.9% are between the ages of 18 and 24, 16.8% are teens between the ages of 13 and 17, and 11.6% fall into the preteen, 10- to 12-​year old, category.

Ting Digital Family Lifestyle Survey Key Takeaways

Parents are concerned about phone safety: Safety is top of mind for the majority of parents who give their kids phones.

  • 76% of respondents got their kid a phone for use in case of emergencies. Though keeping kids safe was the top factor influencing purchase, parents are also aware that phones come with added safety risks that need to be addressed.
  • While 96% of parents said they've had a conversation with their children about phone safety, parents are still concerned and don't appear to be leaving kids to their own devices.
  • 78% of parents worry that their kids are giving away too much identifying information through apps and websites (i.e. geotagging their location or using their full name online).
  • Most parents are being proactive about it: 73% said they monitor their kid's activity on their phone, with 52% of those parents reporting that they look at the content of their kid's text messages and 45% reporting that they use location tracking on their kid's phone.
  • Despite safety concerns, 49% of parents agree that having a phone is net positive for their child.

How kids use their phones: Phones seem to be replacing other methods of content consumption for kids.

  • 72% of parents report their kids would rather be on their phones than watch TV. In fact, according to parents, 27% of kids are primarily using the phones for watching and streaming video.
  • Despite Facebook's recent announcement to proactively keep younger kids off its social platforms, parents say 23% of kids are primarily using their phones for social media.
  • Still, the majority of kids (37%), according to parents, are primarily using their phones for communication, including FaceTime, texting and calling.
  • When asked if they worried about their kid becoming addicted to technology, 81% of parents agreed or strongly agreed that this is a concern.

According to AudienceSCAN, Smartphone Shoppers are very active on social media. About 85% are active on Facebook, 69.5% use YouTube, 47.9% participate on Instagram and 45.4% have Twitter accounts. Nearly 37% also share good experiences on social media and 23.3% have taken action based on information they saw on social media.

Rules around cell phones at home and school:
Parents and school administrators are trying to find a balance between giving kids access to phones and setting parameters to keep devices from becoming a distraction.

  • Phone usage seems to be a form of currency between parents and kids. 56% of parents say that they have used a kid's cell phone as incentive to reward good behavior, while 69% report that they've taken cell phones away as a consequence of bad behavior.
  • While 52% of parents say that their child is allowed to use their phone any time of day, 79% of families have a strict "no phones at the dinner table" policy.
  • The school rules are clear: The majority of parents said their kids are not allowed to use their phones during class time. 45% of parents said phones have to be kept in a locker or with a teacher during class, while 21% said that kids are not allowed to bring their phone to school at all.
  • Parents are still finding ways to communicate: 32% of parents reported that they text with their children during the day.

Phones as an expense: Parents are trying their best to keep mobile expenses for their kids low.

  • Parents who said their kid's phone is on a family plan with a major mobile carrier paid an average of $42 per month for their kid's mobile use. Parents who said their kid's phone is connected to their pooled usage with Ting paid an average of $22 per month, nearly 50% less.
  • Parents are handing over their old phones to kids rather than purchasing new ones for them: 61% of kids' first phones were hand-​me-​downs. Of the 39% of parents who did buy their kid's first phone brand new, 45% spent less than $100.

Smartphone Shoppers can be swayed to action during their search for smartphones for their kids. Last year, according to AudienceSCAN, 58.7% took action after seeing a sponsored search result. Email is also an effective advertising medium, as 54% of this audience was motivated by their inbox' content last year. Smartphones aren't the only products these parents expect to buy for their kids. This year, 14.8% of Smartphone Shoppers plan to purchase at least $500 of children's clothing. Apparel retailers can boost sales by advertising their wares via mobile smartphone app or text message. Last year, nearly 52% of this audience took action as a result of these kinds of ads. Their response rate may be even higher once they buy their new smart phone.

AudienceSCAN data is available for your applications and dashboards through the SalesFuel API. Media companies and agencies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.

Rachel Cagle

Rachel Cagle

Rachel is a Research Analyst, specializing in audience intelligence, at SalesFuel. She also helps to maintain the major accounts and co-​op intelligence databases. As the holder of a Bachelors degree in English from The Ohio State University, Rachel helps the rest of the SalesFuel team with their writing needs.