Uh oh! My soon to be 11-year-old son has been asking for a cellphone. And my husband and I are not sure if we should let him have one.

To help make that decision I took a look at The Nielsen Company’s fourth-quarter 2016 Mobile Kids Report, which provided insights from parents of kids aged between 6 and 12, and found some interesting information.

According to Nielsen, 45% of kids had a service plan at 10 – 12 years old. The most predominant age when kids got a service plan was age 10 (22%), followed by 8 years old (16%) and ages 9 and 11 were tied at 15%.

The vast majority (93%) are on the same plan as their parents, and 72% have all mobile wireless services including voice, messaging and data.

There are many reasons why parents get their kids wireless service before they turn 13, such as the following:

  • Being able to get hold of their child easily: 90%
  • Child can reach out to the parent: 90%
  • Parent can track child’s location: 80%
  • Child has been asking for a phone for a while: 66%
  • Parent wants to get their child familiar with mobile technology: 65%
  • Parent has good family/shared wireless plan to cover additional lines: 62%

But, parents being parents, we still have many concerns:

  • The phone could be lost easily: 77%
  • Smartphones pose too much distraction: 72%
  • Children might spend too much time with their device: 71%
  • Lack of control of what content kids would see online: 68%
  • Children might not know how to use their phones responsibly: 67%

According to the report, the best ways to address these concerns is to include better safety controls and features to block inappropriate content (55%), better usage controls to limit access (48%) and better service plan options for children (34%).

So once a child has a phone, what do they do with it? According to Nielsen, the top activities include the following:

  • Text messaging: 81%
  • Downloading apps: 59%
  • Playing preinstalled games: 53%
  • Mobile internet/accessing websites: 53%
  • Live video calling: 46%

Wow, that’s a lot to think about. I’m going to discuss all these points with my husband before we make a decision.

What age do you think is appropriate for a child to get his or her own cell phone? What do you think of kids having phones? Let me know!

Thanks, and have a great day!