Disney may have been too far ahead of trends when it launched its short-lived mobile phone service in 2006. These days, the young princess or hero fan is more likely than not to have a mobile phone, according to a new study. And most parents buy for their tweens out of safety concerns.
Six of 10 kids were aged 10 or 11 when they received their first phone, a survey of parents this year shows. Two of 10 kids got their first phone at eight or nine.
“Kids are getting these phones at an earlier and earlier age,” said John Breyault, vice president of public policy, telecommunications and fraud at the National Consumers League, which organized the survey. A “phone is like a rite of passage, like getting training wheels taken off a bike,” he said.
The so-called tweeners are aged eight to 12 and are clearly the growth market and the “sweet spot” for the industry, he said.
Indeed, the survey was sponsored by TracFone wireless, which sells prepaid wireless phones.
Graham Hueber, senior researcher at ORC International, organized the survey of 802 families.
Some 84 percent of respondents said they bought the phone out of safety concerns, said Hueber, but added that there’s no narrative data listing parents’ specific worriers.
And apparently, only 16 percent of tweeners who have phones had to ask for them. That’s how many parents said they bought a phone on request.
Parents are most likely to add a child to an existing family plan, but also say price is the number one factor in their choice.
“Yet there appears to be a lot of room to save money,” he said. Many respondents were not aware of “lower cost, unlimited, prepaid phone plans that would allow your child to make unlimited calling and texting,” and they said they’d be willing to have a look at such plans.
Those plans, incidentally, are just what TracFone markets.