One in 10 British children given first phone by the time they’re five

More than a million children in the UK - or one in 10 - have been given their first mobile by the age of just five, a new survey of British families has revealed.

The majority of children however, have to wait considerably longer to get a phone bolted to their side as the average age is 11 years and eight months - soon after starting secondary school.

The projected national figures are based on a survey of 1420 parents with children under 16 carried out by price comparison service uSwitch.com.

On average, parents will spend £246 on a phone for themselves and £125 on a phone for their kids; enough to cover the cost of an entry-level smartphone like the Samsung Galaxy Ace or BlackBerry Curve 9320. 15 per cent of children however have mobiles worth more than their parents'.

While parents spend £19 per month on average on their own pay-monthly mobile deals, they spend just £11 per month on each of their children's bills the survey found.

Perhaps surprisingly, more than four in ten parents said they do not monitor what their children spend on their phone, whilst just a quarter place caps on their kids' contracts. Less than one in twenty disable the data function on their children's phones so they are only able to use them to call and text.

Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com, says: "As well as arming kids with mobiles for emergencies and peace of mind, I'd imagine that many parents have bought their kids smartphones just to stop them commandeering their own when bored. Smartphones are getting more affordable all the time, with entry-level models costing as little as £7 per month with a free phone or £29.99 for a SIM-free handset.

"So if you do give in to your kids' requests, asking networks to place caps on their mobile bills takes about five minutes and is a very sensible precaution, especially if your child has a data-hungry smartphone. Make sure that when they're at home, your kids are browsing the web using Wi-Fi instead of consuming data by connecting to the internet via 3G or 4G."

Image credit: Flickr (apdk)