More than a third of kids under 12 already own a smartphone, new research reveals
What’s the right age to give your child a smartphone? Parents will have to decide this for themselves, but new research has shown that two in five kids under 12 own a smartphone.
Finder’s Parenting Report 2023 surveyed 1033 Australians revealed 37 per cent of children under 12 already had a smartphone – that’s the equivalent of more than 940,000 children around the country.
And this percentage on the rise from previous years – 35 per cent in 2021 and 22 per cent in 2018.
The study showed 8 per cent received a smartphone between the ages of five and seven.
“Mobile phones are a huge part of our lives – it’s no surprise children are being introduced to the technology at a young age,” says Mariam Gabaji, utilities expert at Finder.
“Whether it’s for entertainment purposes or to stay in touch, it depends on personal circumstances as to when you think your child is old enough to own their own smartphone.
“Many parents view them as necessary for keeping their kids connected and safe, especially if they need to get in touch with them when they’re not around.”
But two third of kids under 12 still don’t have a smartphone (63 per cent) with 5 per cent receiving their first device before the age of five.
NSW kids are the most connected with 44 per cent receiving their first smartphone before they turn 12.
Victoria was next at 35 per cent followed by Queensland at 32 per cent.
Pre-paid plans are also the most popular for kids with smartphones under 12 because parents won’t get hit with excess charges.
Talk and text are unlimited in pre-paid plans so data is the real variable that will determine the monthly cost.
“If your kid’s big on streaming and video calling on the go, you might consider opting for a decent data allowance instead of paying excess charges or topping up data on the fly,” Gabaji said.
“Some mobile providers even offer features to address cyber safety if you’re concerned about their screen time and safety online.”
Finder’s Best Mobile Plans for Kids
– Best cheap prepaid plan: TPG 12GB Mobile Plan. You can get 12GB of data for just $10 for the first six months with this plan. It then reverts to $20 a month for 12GB after. It covers unlimited calls and texts to Australian users and there’s no lock-in contract, so there’s no need to worry if you want to change your plan after.
– Best cheap post-paid plan: Southern Phone Small Plus. You can get this plan for $10 a month for the first 3 months and get 10GB of data to use. This provider runs on the full Optus 4G network so you can get the same coverage as on an Optus plan. A post-paid plan means you can set and forget – pay your bill at the end of each month for how much your kid has used up.
– Best low data mobile plan: Southern Phone Small. You can get this offer until 1 May 2023 to get 2GB of data for $5 on your first 3 months. On the fourth month onwards, price goes back to $10 per month. You can make standard unlimited calls and texts in Australia. You can switch to a different plan if you change your mind as it has no lock-in contract. Operates on the Optus 4G network.
– Best long expiry plan: amaysim 60GB Long Expiry Plan. Instead of paying $120, you’ll just have to pay $99 and get 60GB of data to use for the whole year. This offer ends on 31 March 2023 and the price will go back to $120 for 60GB. Your kid will also have access to unlimited calls and texts all for use within Australia. Save any unused data for the next recharge with amaysim’s unlimited data banking.
– Best mobile plan for coverage: Boost $20 Prepaid SIM. You’ll be getting 5GB of data for $20 when you choose this plan. Boost is the only small provider that offers full access to Telstra’s 4G network and $20 is cheap for access to it. The cheapest plan from Telstra itself will cost you at least $30 a month. Data banking is available until the end of the following month so your kid can save up any unused data.