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Children’s Use of Mobile Phones – An International Comparison
To gain a better understanding of how children use their mobile phones across the world, the GSMA has collaborated with NTT DoCoMo on research comparing children’s use of mobile phones. The report “Children’s Use of Mobile Phones – An International Comparison” was published in February 2009 with NTT DoCoMo’s Mobile Society Research Institute (MSRI), with support from KT Freetel (KTF). It compares mobile phone use by children in five countries - Japan, Korea, China, India and Mexico.
Over 6,000 children between the ages of 9 and 18 and their parents were surveyed on a range of questions on their use, attitudes and feelings towards mobile phones.
Whilst the main factor affecting children’s mobile phone ownership is their age (for each additional year in age, an additional 4% of children own a mobile phone), the network effect of friends starting to use mobile phones was also found to be a key trigger for take up of phones by children across all the countries surveyed.
Gender, parental age, parental income and ownership of video games and computers were also found to have an effect on ownership of phones across all the surveyed countries.
Gender - 4% more girls owned a mobile phone than boys, and 9% more girls who did not own a mobile phone wanted to.
- Parental age - the older the parents, the older the children are when they first start to own mobile phones.
- Computers and video games - children owning personal computers and video games are more likely to own mobile phones and start using them at an earlier age.
- Parental Income – the higher their parents’ income, the more likely children are to own a mobile phone.
- Contrary to theories that mobile phones can be an unwelcome distraction for children, the study found no effective correlation between children’s ownership and usage of mobile phones and the time they spent on other activities.
The study also examined children’s attitudes to mobile phones and the ways in which mobiles may influence them. It found that girls, more than boys, view their phones as essential tools in their lives and that children who use mobile e-mail/SMS more frequently tend to show higher levels of trust in new media such as the Internet and slightly reduced trust in traditional media including TV and newspapers.
The full report can be downloaded from the GSMA website at http://www.gsmworld.com/documents/Final_report.pdf