Mobile phones and kids - the love that dare not speak its name. In a recent survey it was found that 51% of 10 year olds and 70% of 11 year olds own mobile phones. While they may be extremely useful devices in order for parents to keep a close eye (or ear) on their children (although only 35% of the children surveyed considered this 'big brother'-style use reasonable), phones are also used for teenage sedition - according to the same survey, 35% of 11-17 year olds claim they regularly talk and text people about whom they would rather their parents didn't know. Then of course, there's always the adolescent desire to out-do their peers and convince their parents to buy them the latest mobile phone - honestly, who'd be a 21st century parent?
Nokia mobile phones proved the most popular brand amongst the 11-17 year old age bracket, with Motorola taking the 2nd spot and Samsung mobile phones coming in third. However, while the brand itself exerts a fair amount of peer pressure, it seems to be far more important to boys than girls - boys deem functionality the most important property of the phone, whereas girls are after something that reflects their own style and personality: proof that mobile phones are more than portable communication devices these days, but are approaching the standing of a status symbol.
Contract mobile phone deals don't seem to appeal to the young market - probably because at that age they don't yet have the banking facilities to manage a direct debit - with over 85% of young people preferring Pay As You Go tariffs. 70% of 11-17 year olds have claimed that owning mobile phones has made their life better, mainly for social reasons. Texting is an aspect of mobile phone use in which kids can usually claim mastery: the average 11-17 year old surveyed claimed to send an average of around 10 text messages a day, taking place on such a grand scale compared with other age groups that it has quickly overtaken the amount of time children spend actually talking on their mobiles. While contract mobile phones UK-bound generally offer a certain amount of texts and free calls per month, most children prefer texting to conserve their precious credit and maintain a non-intrusive method of communication.
Mobile phones form an important aspect of our childrens' lives - to them it signifies status among their peers, an increased independence and a vital implement in their social networking. The high street, of course, are catering for our little technophiles, with mobile phone shops found in greater number and concentration than estate agents in many parts of London.