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Tech tots: 2 in 5 kids under 12 own a smartphone

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A growing number of Aussie kids own their own smartphone, according to new research by Finder.

According to Finder's Parenting Report 2023, which surveyed 1,033 Australian parents of children under 12, almost 2 in 5 (37%) kids received a smartphone before the age of 12 – equivalent to over 940,000 children.

That's an increase from 35% in 2021 and 22% in 2018.

The research found almost 1 in 10 (8%) were given a smartphone between ages 5 and 7.

Mariam Gabaji, utilities expert at Finder, said more kids are using smartphones than ever before.

"Mobile phones are a huge part of our lives – it's no surprise children are being introduced to the technology at a young age.

"Whether it's for entertainment purposes or to stay in touch, it depends on personal circumstances as to when you think your child is old enough to own their own smartphone.

"Many parents view them as necessary for keeping their kids connected and safe, especially if they need to get in touch with them when they're not around."

Finder's research found almost two-thirds of kids under 12 still don't have a smartphone (63%), while 5% got their first smartphone before the age of 5.

Children from New South Wales are the most likely to be plugged into the world of tech, with 44% of kids owning their own smartphone before age 12. This is followed by 35% in Victoria and 32% in Queensland.

Gabaji said parents typically choose prepaid plans for their kids to avoid getting hit with excess charges.

"You don't want to be spending a fortune on your kid's mobile plan. These days, most plans come with unlimited talk and text, so data is key to look out for.

"You also want to consider which network the mobile plan is on. This will give you peace of mind that your child won't have trouble getting through to you wherever they are and vice versa.

"If your kid's big on streaming and video calling on the go, you might consider opting for a decent data allowance instead of paying excess charges or topping up data on the fly.

"Some mobile providers even offer features to address cyber safety if you're concerned about their screen time and safety online," Gabaji said.

At what age did your child get their first smartphone?
Less than 5 years old5%
5 years old3%
6 years old3%
7 years old3%
8 years old5%
9 years old5%
10 years old9%
11 years old6%
My child does not have a smartphone63%
Source: Finder's Parenting Report 2023 of 1,033 parents of children 0–12, November 2022

Stop spending too much on your kids' phone plan and check out Finder's picks for the best mobile plans for kids.

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