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Study: Kids OK with mobile rules


The AT&T Mobile Safety study of 1,000 parents and 500 children by GfK shows that there’s an opportunity for parents and kids to have more discussions about the sometimes contentious topic of mobile phones.

Surprisingly, 90 percent of the kids, ages 8-17, agree it’s OK for their parents to set rules for their use of such devices; conversely, far fewer (66 percent) say their parents have actually set such rules.

AT&T commissioned the study to better understand the most prevalent wireless safety issues for families.

Survey results show that 39 percent of children ages 12-14 know someone who has received a sexual message or picture over their phone – a figure that jumps to 53 percent among children ages 15-17.

Additionally, nearly one in five 8- to 11-year-olds surveyed have received a mean or bullying text message. Yet, kids say that discussing mobile safety is low on the list of talks parents have with their kids.

“The AT&T Mobile Safety study sheds new light on very serious issues that can arise for children who are using mobile devices,” said National PTA President Betsy Landers. “Today’s parent should be aware of today’s technology and how it can affect their children. Being an engaged parent includes having a conversation about wireless safety with their children as they grow up.”

While the study results bring up a variety of concerns, there are ways parents can manage how a mobile phone is used. AT&T offers tools that can block what content may be accessed, times of day phones can be used and ways to block texts and calls from bullies.

Additionally, AT&T FamilyMap can help parents locate their children and it will send alerts at predetermined times with the child’s location, such as when they should have arrived at home or school.

According to The AT&T Mobile Safety study:

* The average age a child is given their first phone is 12.1; the average age for a child’s first smartphone is 13.8, among those with a phone.

* 48 percent of children ages 12-14 have ridden in a vehicle with someone who was texting while driving. Among those ages 15-17, the percentage of teens who have ridden with a driver who was texting increases to 64 percent.

* One in four teens ages 15-17 have received mean or bullying text messages (compared to nearly one in five reported by both 8- to 11- and 12- to 14-year-olds).

* More than half of teens ages 15-17 know someone who has received a sexual message or picture over their phone (compared to 39 percent among those aged 12-14).

* 58 percent of parents say that their mobile phone provider offers tools or resources for parents to address issues like overages, safety, security and monitoring. One in seven is not sure whether they have access to these services.

“Mobile devices are becoming parents’ and kids’ preferred way to communicate on-the-go,” said Janiece Evans-Page, assistant vice president – community engagement, AT&T.

“The Mobile Safety website is our way of helping families – providing them with educational resources and raising awareness about products to help manage safety issues,” she said. “The fact is, there are a variety of free to low-cost tools that can give parents peace of mind, and we want 100 percent of the parents out there to know their options – not just 58 percent of them.”

Research published in the AT&T Mobile Safety study was conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs, and involved a nationally-representative dual-frame random digit dial (RDD) sample consisting of both landline and cell phone telephone interviews with:

* 1,000 adults who have a mobile phone and children between the ages of 8-17 who also have a mobile phone

* 500 children between the ages of 8-17 who have a mobile phone (55 interviews were conducted among children ages 8-11; 186 among ages 12-14; and 259 among ages 15-17)

The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points among the full parents sample and plus or minus 4.6 percentage points among the full children sample. The margin of sampling error will be higher for subgroups.

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