Two thirds of parents see critical educational and safety benefits of smartphones for kids as home rules for positive use revealed

● Parents welcome kids’ smartphone usage for safety and peace of mind as long as the right rules are in place
● No use at school and website restrictions rank among top phone rules to encourage safe and healthy phone habits
● And texting at the dinner table still keeps the nation divided!

Research from family locator app and safety membership platform Life360 has revealed the top benefits that UK parents of kids 13 and under see from mobile ownership alongside the rules that they put in place to encourage healthy and safe smartphone habits.

The survey highlights that in an age of increasingly digitally native families, many are embracing technology as a means to provide peace of mind when it comes to modern-day parenting including reassurance that it is easier than ever before to stay on top of their kids’ whereabouts.

The data reveals that almost two thirds (64%) of parents believe that smartphone ownership can positively impact education and learning, whilst a significant 67% prioritise safety and security as the number one reason for providing their child with a mobile phone, surpassing other factors such as convenience and social lives. The majority of parents feel kids should have a phone by age 13.

Top phone rules parents set in place include no usage whilst at school, a limit on total hours they use it, and no use at night time. Other common phone rules include restrictions on apps, restrictions on browsing and limits on where phones can be used (e.g. only in the living room, not in bedrooms).

Parenting expert Kirsty Ketley who has been commissioned by Life360 to develop plans for parents on how to encourage healthy smartphone habits for kids and teens, said:

“Responsible use of phones can be essential to support today’s parenting, from coordinating busy family schedules to giving peace of mind that kids are safe when not physically with them. It’s important that parents set clear rules and guidance for their families and especially for their kids when they get a smartphone as this encourages safe habits that they benefit from right into adulthood.”

“Of course, children learn from their parents, so the same rules should apply to every member of the family who owns a phone when it comes to when you use the phone, how and where. Setting the right example will ensure the right behaviour.”

The research also reveals that the nation remains divided on whether phones should be used at the dinner table, as half (50%) of parents whose children have phones place restrictions on usage at the dinner table.

Parental controls of website content also ranks among the top rules for kids’ phone usage, with 61% of respondents revealing they monitor the sites their kids are accessing and 38% review their text messages. When asked what was the first type of app that their child had on their smartphone, gaming apps ranked top of the list (45%), followed by location-sharing apps (18%).

Of parents whose children have smartphones, an overwhelming majority seek reassurance by actively using location-sharing technology, and many agree it makes them significantly more likely to allow their children to do major activities like travel to and from school (86%) and go into town or to shopping centres with friends (86%) unsupervised.

David Rice, International GM and CSO for Life360, said:
“We commissioned this research to understand real-life concerns of UK parents and the steps they take to feel reassured about their children’s safety. The findings reinforce the fact that using location-sharing apps can provide families with a sense of security about each other’s safety and whereabouts whilst opening lines of communication, improving trust and allowing kids more freedom.

“It’s beneficial for tweens and teens to have access to smartphones as this technology often becomes an integral part of day-to-day family life across multiple generations and vital in rare emergency situations.”