New Study Uncovers 15 Surprising Facts About Mobile Phones And Families

When you step into your school this fall, your eyes won’t be playing tricks on you. Pretty much every student, starting at the age of about 12, has a mobile phone. About a third of those students have a smartphone. The ‘Generation Text‘ is here and they expect you to keep up with them.

That’s according to a new study commissioned by AT&T and conducted by GfK. They did a national study with 1,000 parents and 500 children ages 8-17. This study found some good news (nearly all kids think it’s OK to have parents control phone usage) and some bad news (1 in 5 kids have been bullied via text message).

At any rate, this study comes at a critical time for students (and teachers) heading back to class.

Kids start receiving mobile phones in grade school

  • Kids receive their first mobile phone, on average, at age 12.1.
  • Of the kids who have a mobile phone, 34% have a smartphone.

Mobile issues are very real for kids

  • More than half (53%) of kids report that they have ridden with someone who was texting and driving.
  • More than 1 in 5 kids (22%) say they’ve been bullied via a text message from another kid.
  • Almost half (46%) of kids ages 11–17 say they have a friend who has received a message or picture that their parents would not have liked because it was too sexual.

Kids are willing to accept rules

  • 90% of kids think it’s OK for parents to set rules on how kids can and cannot use the phone.
  • 66% of kids have rules at home about use of their phone; 92% of these kids think they are fair — and this is consistent across age groups and types of phone (i.e., mobile phone and smartphone).

… but aren’t necessarily getting them

  • Only 66% of kids say their parents have rules on how they can and cannot use their phone. Rules are much more common among younger kids.
  • 38% of kids say their parents have not talked to them about staying safe and secure when using the mobile phone.
  • 77% of kids age 8–11 and 74% of kids age 12–14 say they have rules, compared to only 58% of kids age 15–17.

Mobile phones are a kid’s go-to device

  • If kids had to choose one technology device for the rest of their lives, the majority say they would choose a mobile phone above all else — computer, television, tablet.
  • 75% of kids think their friends are addicted to phones.

Not all parents are using or are aware of the tools at their disposal

  • 62% of parents are concerned that they are not able to fully monitor everything their child is doing and seeing on the phone.
  • 2 out of 5 kids with a mobile phone say their parents have not talked to them about staying safe and secure when using the mobile phone.
  • 58% of parents say that their mobile phone provider offers tools or resources for parents to address issues like overages, safety, security and monitoring.

* Research published in the AT&T Mobile Safety study was conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs and involved a nationally representative dual-frame random digit dial (RDD) sample consisting of both landline and cell phone telephone interviews with 1,000 adults who have a mobile phone and children between the ages of 8–17 who also have a mobile phone; and 500 children between the ages of 8–17 who have a mobile phone (55 interviews were conducted among children ages 8–11; 186 among ages 12–14; and 259 among ages 15–17).

The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points among the full parents sample and plus or minus 4.6 percentage points among the full children sample. The margin of sampling error will be higher for subgroups.