Parents give girls mobiles before boys

Alex Kidman 1 November 2016

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Girls are substantially more likely to receive their first mobile at a younger age than boys according to new research.

Many parents opt to give their kids mobiles as an easy method of communication these days, but the exact age you give a child a phone can vary quite a lot. Research from Roy Morgan suggests that while hand-me-downs are common, girls are more likely to get their first mobile at an earlier age than boys, and it’s more likely to be a new handset as well.

The research suggests that adults have mobile ownership in the range of 98% for men and 99% for women by the time they’re legal adults, but up until that age the relative ownership varies quite widely as kids rely on their parents for their handset needs.

At the small end of the scale, boys slightly outnumber girls with 3% of boys and 2% of girls reportedly carrying around a phone at age 6-7. Between the ages of 8 and 9, a further 12% of the female population scores a phone, giving 14% ownership by age, but the boys only improve by 5% up to 8%. At 10-11, 23% of boys have a phone, dwarfed by girls at 31%, but it’s the early tween years where ownership skyrockets. 69% of girls aged 12-13 have a phone, while 64% of boys are likewise hefting around a phone of some sort. From there it’s a steady progression to 80 and 88% respectively in the 14-15 age bracket and 96/97% for 16-17 year old boys and girls respectively.

The research suggests that the disparity comes about because of parental attitudes to the safety of their daughters, as well as those daughters being more accepting of any mobile phone they’re given, while boys might be more picky. (Perhaps that's because other research suggests they have more money in their savings.)

For the girls the communication aspects are the most important factor where boys focus in more on having a phone at the right price and whether or not it’s tough, which suggests they’re at least aware of the perils of accidentally destroying a phone.

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