Smartphones are the new ‘must have’ back to school gadget

Mobile & tablets

by Duncan MacRae| 20 August 2014

Children as young as six will be heading to the classroom with a new phone.

Smartphones are the number one back to school gadget in the UK for children 15 years and under.

A study by mobile phone deal comparison site, Tiger Mobiles, also found that school student's needs are shifting toward tech products that provide the latest features in communication, mobility and convenience.

Smartphones dominated the study, with 59% of parents revealing they planned to buy their child a mobile phone ahead of the new school year. Tablets (22%), Laptops (10%) and MP3 players (6%) were also high on the list of prospective purchases. It's bad news for Mathematics teachers though with only 3% of parents opting for the trusty scientific calculator.

The survey, commissioned as part of ongoing research into buying habits and experiences of smartphone users in the UK, quizzed 2,870 parents with children aged 15 years or under about their back to school buying habits:

Findings included:

- 59% of parents will be buying their child a phone ahead of the new school new year.

- 96% will be purchasing a full blown smartphone as opposed to a feature phone that doesn't have apps or full internetaccess.

- 68% cited safety of their child as the main reason for buying one.

- 12% believed a smartphone would help with homework and their child's organisation.

- 18% admitted the only reason for purchasing a mobile phone was because their child's classmates owned one.

- Children as young as six will be starting the new school year in possession of a mobile phone.

- 75% of parents will opt for a contract phone as opposed to pay as you go.

Head of customer insight at Tiger Mobiles, Brandon Ackroyd, said: "We truly live in the smartphone generation so it's no real surprise that children are getting their hands on mobile devices ahead of a new school year.

"There's of course a big debate about whether a child needs a smartphone at that age but I think we're past that. It's happening and I don't think there's much anyone can say or do to change that."

One area of concern for Ackroyd was the money parents are spending on handsets.

He said: "We are seeing more and more parents splash the cash on high end smartphones when they really don't need to. Even a heavy smartphone user rarely uses an iPhone to its full potential so for a child at Primary School it is complete overkill.

"I'd always point parents in the direction of cheaper handsets and also opt for PAYG over a pay monthly deal. It's a good way of teaching children financial control and budgeting from a young age."

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