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11 January 2014

Children's Use of Mobile Phones: Comparison of Use in Five Countries

“65% of children aged 8 to 18 have access to a mobile handset. Across the five countries, 12 is the most common age for a child to first own a mobile phone. However, there are significant variations by country; for example, in India and Japan it is more common for children to first own a phone when they are 15 years old, whereas in Chile, 10 is the most common age.” The discussion about safety issues includes topics on overuse of cell phones and inappropriate sites. There is no mention in this report of potential physical and mental health risks.

Following is a description of the report and the part of the Executive Summary on safer mobile use and the impact of mobile phone use on children’s lives.  The report in full is available here: Full report – English (PDF).  Executive summaries are available in English and Spanish (links at end of article).

Children’s use of mobile phones – An international comparison 2012
Published in 2013 by the GSM Association and the Mobile Society Research Institute within NTT DOCOMO Inc, Japan, in association with various telecoms operators, 13 May 2013

Children in a mobile world

Children around the globe are increasingly passionate users of mobile technology. Demonstrating a receptivity and enthusiasm that far exceeds those of their parents and teachers; they are embracing the opportunities provided by mobile phones in ways that could not have been predicted a decade ago.

Children’s use of mobile phones – An international comparison 2012 provides a detailed picture of children’s mobile phone usage across five different countries – Japan, Chile, Egypt, India and Indonesia. Now in its fourth year, the 2012 study surveyed 4,500 children and their parents or guardians. It builds on work previously conducted in India, Japan and Egypt, and features Indonesia and Chile for the first time.

The 2012 research has been funded by mobile operators in each country with a contribution from the GSMA and the continued support of the Mobile Society Research Institute. The report data was obtained through a series of surveys conducted in each country during July and August 2012.

Research focus

To enable year-on-year comparisons, standard questions were posed to the children and their parents including:

- Age of first mobile ownership
- Reasons for getting a mobile
- Feelings about their mobile phone
- Parents’ concerns over their child’s use of mobile phones

Additionally, topics for the 2012 survey included:

Social networking and privacy: How many children use social networking services (SNS) on mobile phones; how many contacts do they have; are children and parents aware of what information they are making public via their mobile phones?

Internet access via mobile and content: Are children accessing the internet via mobile; how many are doing it; how long do they spend using it, and what content are they looking for?

Mobile app use: Are apps being accessed by children and how does that compare with their parents’ use; what types of apps are being used, and which are the most popular?

The impact on confidence and relationships: Do mobile phones affect children’s confidence; do they feel more secure with a mobile phone; how does a mobile phone impact on their external relationships, and what tools do they think are best for strengthening relationships?

Key Findings in Chile

Mobile phone ownership rate
- 79% of children own a mobile phone with the age of first ownership peaking at age 10.
- 42% of child mobile phone users have a smartphone.

Use of mobile phones
- 61% of children who use a mobile phone use it for both calling and messaging, the lowest of the five countries surveyed.

Mobile internet
- 54% of all children who use a mobile use it to access the internet.

Mobile apps use
- 78% of children with access to handsets use apps; this is higher than their parents usage at 71%.
- Entertainment app use is most popular among children who use or download apps at 94%, followed by communication apps at 37%.

Social networking services and privacy
- 49% of children use social networking services via their mobile phones.
- 26% of children’s profiles are set as open to the public while 48% are set as private.

Parental concerns and mobile safety
- Parents’ concern about children’s privacy is high, with 91% of parents being “very concerned” or “concerned”.
- 64% of parents have introduced rules on their children’s mobile phone use.

From Executive Summary:

Key findings: Safer mobile use 

Over 70% of parents have concerns about their children’s mobile phone use, with viewing inappropriate sites and overuse sharing the highest percentage at around 82%.

Sixty-five per cent of parents have set family rules about what their children may or may not do on their mobile phone, with Japan having the highest percentage at 77% and India the lowest at 46%; however, there was no common response on punishment for rule-breaking.

In addition to setting rules, 54% of all parents surveyed who have access to parental control solutions use them; with content filters being the most common control applied (57%).

Overall, 45% of children on SNS have public profiles; this is as high as 55% among 13-year-olds, and is highest in Indonesia (65%) followed by Egypt (45%). Although 55% of children have some degree of security on their social networking profiles, 70% have met or started to communicate with ‘new friends’ online.

Key findings: Mobile’s impact on children’s lives

Mobile phones are an integral part of children’s lives and nearly 80% of child mobile phone users agree that their devices increase their confidence. This was more common among children aged 10 to 13, with over 80% in these age groups agreeing that their confidence is augmented by having a mobile phone.

A high number of children feel insecure without their device, with 63% agreeing that to the statement

‘I feel insecure without my mobile phone’. This percentage increases significantly among older children aged between 16 and 18, with 66% to 71% across the age range feeling insecure without their handsets.

The impact that social networking has on children who use these services via their mobile is also apparent, with 90% agreeing that they have reinforced relationships with close friends through such services.

Click in the links to download the report “Children’s use of mobile phones 2012: An international comparison“:

Full report – English (PDF)
Executive summary – English (PDF)
Executive summary – Español (PDF)


1 comment:

  1. I agree with you in some points here. Many students share their cell phones with friends. This is becoming even more common with so many students on unlimited texting, data and calling plans.mobile phones


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