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How many pre-teens have smartphones?

4 years ago

Holly Seddon admin
Holly Seddon Editor-in-chief of Kent, UK

Anyone that drives a car knows that almost every teenager seems to have a mobile – by deign of having to swerve around them as they text their way across the roads. And increasingly it is the smaller hands of the family tugging at our sleeves and requesting their own handset… but just how many under-13s have mobiles and how many of these are smartphones?

A 2011 Ofcom media literacy study found that smartphone ownership in the five to seven age group is a tiny 3%, rising to 13% in the eight to 11s and then climbing steeply at high school age (35% in the 12-15s). In the US, 58% of kids aged 13 to 17 own a smartphone.

And what do they do with their smartphones? A quarter of the smartphone kids aged eight to 15 say that they regularly use it to visit social networking sites (Ofcom).

Pre-teens are not early adopters when it comes to hardware – though they can sniff out a new source of gross videos or a monster-based game before we’ve even booted up our computers. They tend to absorb the family hand-me-downs, or receive the basic handsets available with a cheap pay as you go set-up.

But with smartphone ownership growing (80% of 18-34-year-olds in the US acquiring a new mobile phone in the three months up until January 2012 chose a smartphone) those hand-me-downs will increasingly be smartphones in 12 to 18 months’ time when upgrades and new contracts roll around.

Which means that, even if the percentages stay the same, a quarter of a much larger number of pre-teens are going to be cropping up on a social network near you…

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