One in two Australian children aged six or under are being granted access to mobile phones by their parents, with almost one in ten having their own designated device, Canstar Blue research has found.
Canstar Blue surveyed 1,327 parents and found that 50% of mums and dads allow their child to use their mobile phone for things like watching videos or looking at pictures. Meanwhile 9% of parents have gone a step further by giving their child their own phone to play with.
Despite this, only one in ten mums and dads surveyed (10%) think it’s fine for children to use mobile phones as soon as they are able to. But of those parents who allow their child to play with a phone, the number who believe it’s OK rises to 24%.
Canstar Blue Editor Simon Downes said mobile phones seem to have replaced the television as an unpaid babysitter for many parents.
“When children see their parents using mobile phones all the time, it’s difficult for parents to tell their kids they can’t do the same,” said Mr Downes. “Whether it’s a good thing or not is a matter of opinion, but it’s interesting to find that most parents are not in favour of giving children phones at a young age – but many still do it anyway.
“In the same way that many parents set out to only allow their child to eat healthy foods, the reality is that it’s easier said than done. And when it comes to phones, once your child has used it once there is probably no going back.
“The fact is that phones can be addictive – they’re addictive for grown-ups, and so we can’t be surprised when our kids become addicted too.”
The Canstar Blue survey found that, of those parents who allow phone access, 15% said their young one becomes grouchy when they are not allowed to play with the phone.
The majority of young kids with their own designated phones are given old handsets by their parents (72%), but more than one in four (28%) were bought their own device to play with.
The survey also found that 12% of kids aged six or under have broken a mobile phone by dropping it on a hard surface.
Across the states, the survey found that parents in Tasmania (61%) and South Australia (58%) are most likely to allow their kids to play with mobile phones. Kids in Queensland are most likely to have their own designed device (12%), while those in New South Wales are most likely to get grouchy when not allowed to play (16%).