69% of parents concerned smartphones are impacting children’s cognitive development

The average child in Britain now gets their first smartphone at the age of seven

Seven in 10 (69%) British parents are worried about the impact of smartphones on childhood development, concerned that over usage is negatively affecting their child’s intelligence, a survey has revealed.

Analysing responses from over 2,000 British adults, The Big Phone Store hoped to measure the impact of smartphones on our everyday lives.

When asked how phones are affecting their child’s development, more than half (53%) of parents agreed that they rely too much on apps, including the calculator function; while two fifths (41%) said they depend too much on search engines to source information. On top of this, one third (35%) believe that autocorrect is affecting children’s ability to progress in learning the English language.

In terms of cognitive development, parents are most concerned about smartphones’ impact on mental arithmetic capabilities (64%), reading and writing (59%), social skills (55%) and memory (49%). On a more positive note, however, three quarters (75%) of respondents feel that smartphones are boosting their child’s overall grasp of technology, with two thirds (65%) of these parents also stating that this is ‘very important’ for their future prospects – academically and professionally.

The survey also uncovered that the average British child now owns their first mobile phone at the age of seven, with two thirds (62%) of respondents saying their child had their first at this age.

After exploring their children’s smartphone habits in more depth, four fifths (80%) of parents said they spent an average of around five hours a day on their devices – two hours more than they did prior to the COVID-19 pandemic – a 67% surge in usage overall.

But parents are also worried about their smartphone’s effect on their own health and wellbeing, with almost half (47%) believing they suffer from Nomophobia (the fear of being without a mobile phone). Additionally, four in five (81%) said they’d struggle to go an entire day without a phone, while almost one third (31%) claimed their phone increases their levels of anxiety and stress. When asked whether these issues would cause them to stop using their phone, more than nine in 10 (94%) claimed they would not.

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When it comes to the positive influence of mobile phones, one third (35%) of respondents felt their device makes them more productive, while more than half (53%) feel much safer when they’re out and about equipped with their phone.

According to Statista, around 95% of UK households have at least one mobile phone, 78% of which are smartphones. This figure has nearly doubled over the last two decades.

“We’re a nation of mobile phone fans,” a spokesperson for The Big Phone Store said. “It’s very uncommon to hear of anyone who doesn’t own a phone nowadays, and as such, it’s reasonable to want your child to have access to one as well. They are an integral part of everyday life in 2020, for work and personal use, so we were intrigued to discover how people believe using their phone impacts them and their children.

“I think the main takeaway is ‘moderation is key’.”

“It was initially shocking to discover just how many parents believe their child’s phones are impacting their intelligence and development, however, when looking into this further, it was very understandable. I think the main takeaway is ‘moderation is key’. It’s important for a child’s future to be technically literate, but this shouldn’t be to the detriment of other areas of learning. Despite that, it was good to see some of the positive impacts phones have from safety to productivity – hopefully parents will be able to better manage their children’s mobile phone use when things start to return to ‘normal’, whatever that might look like.”

Click here to view the full survey results.


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