More than two-fifths (42%) of children have their own phone by age 10.
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A top exec at South Korean tech giant Samsung said he did not give his daughter her own smartphone before she turned 11 years old.
“From my personal perspective, my daughter got a smartphone when she was 11,” James Kitto, vice president head of the MX Division for the U.K. and Ireland, told the BBC’s “Today” radio show Friday.
“I personally wouldn’t have given her one early, but it is a parental decision as to when you should get your child a phone,” he said.
Plenty of parents are giving their children phones before then, according to a 2021 study by review site Common Sense Media, which reported more than two-fifths (42%) of children have their own phone by age 10.
That figure then increases to 71% by age 12 and by 14, it’s 91%.
“Whatever choice you make, and whatever age you make that choice for your child, it is important to ensure that, if they are accessing the internet, they are accessing it in a safe way,” Kitto added.
All mobile phone providers have free parental control features which can limit the content children can access through the internet on their handsets, but these are not always automatically switched on, according to communications watchdog Ofcom.
Ready for a phone?
Deciding whether or not a child is ready to own a smartphone should be based on their own development rather than a specific age, according to Megan Morena, a pediatrics professor at the University of Wisconsin.
“The current evidence doesn’t support a specific age at which a smartphone is or is not recommended,” Morena told CNBC.
“Using a milestone approach is likely a better way to assess a child’s interest and readiness for a phone,” she said.
—CNBC’s Karen Gilchrist contributed to this report.