Monday, 27 November 2017 10:48

Smartphones for kids safety under the Xmas tree: survey

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Children as young as 12 will more than likely be getting their first smartphone this Christmas, with research by Telstra revealing that many parents will buy their kids a phone to keep them safe when they are away from home.

According to the research, almost half of Aussie parents surveyed are considering buying their child a smartphone for Christmas, with issues of safety, both online and offline, front of mind with the mums and dads.

Almost two thirds of parents (61%) said the main reason for giving their child a smartphone was to keep them safe when they were out of the home.

And, many mums and dads were also wary about smartphone safety and balanced usage.

Parents’ top smartphone concern was their child would spend too much time on their device (32%), followed by breakage woes and excess data usage (14%), and online safety worries (12%).

Almost nine in 10 parents (87%) said they would like more information about how to introduce a smartphone into their kids pocket safely.

Jackie Coates, head of the Telstra Foundation, said it was important for parents to set an example of healthy smartphone usage.

“As a mum of a teenager and a tweenager, I know just how hard it is to decide when the time is right, and how to bring a smartphone into your child’s life in the safest possible way,” Coates said.

“The truth is there is no right age or right way, every child and every family is different – but we’ve put together a range of tips, tools and advice to guide and support parents through this journey.

“One of the tools is our Christmas First Smartphone Agreement which helps parents and their kids to set ground rules together. If kids are part of setting the standards on device use, they’re more likely to stick to them.”

Coates says Telstra’s research also delved into the impact smartphones and technology was having on family dynamics.

“Smartphones are introducing a new language for the modern family. I get ‘TTL mum’ (talk to you later) and ‘BRB’ (be right back), but smartphones are also creating new ways for families to communicate and connect,” Coates said.

“Tech is changing family dynamics. We’re seeing the emergence of the ‘connected family’ and ‘connected independence’ for young people. Two-thirds of parents said the main benefit for children owning a smartphone was to give them greater independence – while staying connected with family.”

Coates said more than half of parents said smartphones have made it easier to connect with their family than when they were a child themselves.

“And about 70% of parents said they now communicate with their kids at least once a day via a smartphone — with text messages the most popular way of connecting, followed by calls and chat-apps — and 18% said their child had used a smartphone to tell them something they couldn’t say face to face.”

To view the Telstra Foundation’s Smartphone Safety Hub, including downloadable Christmas First Smartphone Agreement, click here.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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