Email Alerts

Sign-up to Get Notified

Receive monthly reminders on when to check your wireless plan's data usage. Don't be caught by surprise again.



Monday, July 16, 2012

Advice for ‘tweeners,’ the new wireless growth market

Cell phones are not just for adults and teenaged children any more. Nearly six out of 10 (56 percent) parents of “tweeners” (children aged 8-12) have provided their children with cell phones, according to a recent survey conducted by ORC International for the National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s oldest consumer organization. Of those parents, roughly a quarter are facing higher bills than they had expected to pay in order for their child to have a cell phone. “Before the training wheels are coming off their bikes, many children are getting their first cell phones,” said John Breyault, NCL vice president of public policy, telecommunications and fraud. “This survey underscores the fact that pre-teens are the new ‘growth market’ for the wireless industry. Given the increasingly young age at which kids get these devices, the multiplicity of choices in the cell phone market can be daunting for parents. That’s why it is imperative that parents have the information necessary to make informed buying decisions when it comes to their pre-teens’ first wireless devices.” Highlights of the NCL tweeners and cell phones survey include the following:
  • Nearly six out of 10 parents with tweeners surveyed (56 percent) have purchased cell phones for their young children, ranging from a high of 62 percent in households earning over $100,000 a year to a low of 41 percent in households under $50,000 a year.
  • Parents in a third of households earning under $50,000 are paying more for their tweener's cell phone than they had expected. Overall, about a quarter of households (23 percent) report they pay more than they had anticipated would be the case.
  • The 10-11 age range appears to be the “sweet spot” for pre-teens to receive a cell phone. Six out of 10 pre-teens were aged 10-11 when they received their phone. Twenty percent of 8-9 year olds and 15 percent of 12-year olds received a cell phone.
  • Parents who are paying more than they thought they would for their tweener's cell phone would investigate parental controls offered by wireless carrier to control costs (62 percent); set a monthly budget with child (38 percent); cancel phone (23 percent); and switch to prepaid or postpaid unlimited plans (22 percent).
For advice from NCL, see Tweens and cell phones: A guide for responsible use