Social lives & media in their pockets

By Anne Collier

If our kids text, 80% of us do too, according to The Nielsen Company. Nielsen doesn’t say why, but we all know: Our kids “hear” us better when we text them, and – besides – it’s fun to text with them! Here’s some more interesting cellphone data from Nielsen:

* Phone owners are getting younger: Last year kids typically got their first phone at age 10.1; by the beginning of this year 2009, the phone ownership age “was down to 9.7.” Same for borrowing: In 2008, the average age when kids started to borrow a cell phone was 8.6 years”; now it’s 8.
* How they use phones: 66% of tween phone owners took photos with their phones in the past year; half played pre-installed games; 40% activated the speakerphone feature; 28% filmed a video clip; 24% listened to tunes. We’ve already seen this reported, but “the average 13-17 year old sends more than 2,000 text messages per month.”
* Younger phone owners: more than half of 8-year-old owners “used their cell to send text messages in the last 12 months. “That figure soared to 81% for 12-year-old mobile users,” with “the vast majority” (90%) of those texts going to friends and family.”
* Parental controls: More than half of cellphone users’ parents don’t use parental controls. Among the minority who do, “20% limit the number of calls, texts or instant messages, followed by download limits (17%), talk time or voice minute allocations (16%), mobile website access limits (15%), locator services and restricted in/outgoing number access (13% each), time of day restrictions (11%), and alerts to unauthorized texts, IMs or callers (6% each); 60% of parents “forbid downloads onto their children’s phone for financial and security reasons.”

For parents’ own views, see also a piece in the Washington Post about when texting becomes nagging; “When Dad banned text messaging” in a New York Times blog; and another mom’s view of her kids’ texting at TMCnet.com.


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