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6 min read

Internet, mobiles and money top parental worries

Posted in: Research

  • Majority of parents (76%) worry about the right age children should be allowed to reach certain milestones
  • Parents fret most about when to give their children freedom with technology access, mobile phones and independence with money
  • Kids today have their first basic mobile phone at age 10, are allowed social media profiles at age 12, and get their first cash card at age 13

There are many important rites of passage for children, from getting their first set of house keys, to being trusted with money independently but new research reveals that the majority of parents (76%) fret about the ‘right’ ages for these milestones, as modern life opens up unchartered waters.

While over half (55%) of parents would like their ‘kids to be kids’ and to enjoy their childhood for as long as possible, the majority (82%) also believe that giving them more responsibility helps them to become independent. Making sure their child feels they ‘fit in’ is also important to parents, with a third (33%) saying they don’t want their kids to be left out because they’re not allowed to do or have certain things.

Technology

The most common parental concerns relate to the safety of their children, with modern technology causing many challenges to consider. The biggest worry is what age to let children use the internet unsupervised (34% of parents worry about this), while a similar number (29%) feel the same about when children can have their own social media profiles.

The average age is now 10 for youngsters to be given access to the internet unsupervised and to get a basic mobile phone. Smart phones with internet access come at age 11 on average, often tying in with the start of senior school, and most children now have their own social media profiles by the age of 12.

Safety

With four in five (80%) parents feeling that the world is less safe now than it was when they were young, prominent safety concerns include staying home alone (32% worry about this) and letting their children walk to school on their own (31%). Reaching senior school seems to act as a trigger with children having the autonomy to do these at age 12 and 11 respectively.

When it comes to having the freedom to come and go from home, most children get their own set of keys age 12, and when it comes to holiday independence, this is not until mid-teens, with parents saying their children are allowed to go away with friends at age 14.

Money

Parents are keen for their children to understand the value of money, with half (49%) talking to them about money from an early age, and two in five (40%) regularly discussing the cost of living with their children. To help them learn, most give their children pocket money by age eight, and let them choose what to spend it on when they turn nine.

All children aged between 16 and seven will have a Child Trust Fund which were designed to help children and parents engage with money from a young age, and with an average of £1,600 in every account, many youngsters can expect a significant windfall on reaching 18. But parents aren’t stopping there, as when it comes to saving accounts, children will have one in their name by the tender age of seven. ‘Bank’ accounts come four years later at age 11, reflecting the increased responsibility. Having ready access to money via a cash card comes when children hit their teens at age 13, which ties in with when they can go shopping and make their own clothing choices.

Sibling rivalry

Comparing siblings paints an interesting picture. Of those who have multiple children, nearly a third (31%) let their younger ones do things at an earlier age than their first-born, with one in five (20%) worrying less about giving their younger kids responsibilities earlier because their first child ‘turned out okay’. For example, the second child on average is allowed to get their first job in the school holidays two years earlier (age 13 v 11) and their own computer or laptop 12 months younger (age 10 v 9).

Looking back, many (67%) parents say they were given more responsibility at a younger age than children today, because were expected to be more independent.

But many parents feel it’s difficult to know when to let go, with one in five (20%) saying it’s hard to know when children should be reaching certain milestones. Over half (54%) use their gut instinct when it comes to deciding the ‘right’ time to let their kids do something for the first time, while one in three (35%) wait for their children to ask them, and one in five (20%) discuss the issue with other parents.

Steve Ferrari, Managing Director of Children’s Savings at OneFamily, says:

“We are seeing that parents are keen for their children to become independent at a young age, and these rites of age are important milestones along the way. The path to becoming financially independent is certainly a long one with many stages – from giving pocket money to opening their first bank account and eventually helping them to manage a budget on their own – with each step helping children to understand the value of money.

“Many parents are worried about when their children should be given new responsibilities – but the truth is that there is no right time and every family is different.”

Methodology
OneFamily commissioned Viga to undertake market research amongst 2,026 UK parents with children aged between four and 18. The research was conducted between 25 February 2019 and 4 March 2019.