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Kids' Cell Phone Ownership Has Dramatically Increased in Past Five Years
Posted: 06-Jan-2010 [Source: Mediamark Research and Intelligence]

[Twenty percent of U.S. children ages 6-11 currently own a cell phone reports MRI.]

New York -- Cell phone ownership among children has increased 68% in the past five years, according to MRI's recently-released American Kids Study. Twenty percent of U.S. children ages 6-11 currently own a cell phone, up from 11.9% of children in 2005. The most dramatic increase has been among 10-11 year olds (+80.5%).

Moreover, in the past three years there has been a spurt in cell phone ownership among boys. Cell ownership among boys increased 47.6% since 2007, compared with a 17.2% increase among girls.

What are these cell-wielding children doing with their phones? Most use their cells for basic communication tasks, such as calling their parents (88.1%), calling friends (68.1%), emergency purposes (55.7%) and text messaging (54.1%).

"This large increase in cell phone ownership, particularly among boys, comes as more wireless providers are targeting parents through feature-rich, kid friendly phones such as Disney Mobile's LG Phone and the Firefly Communications FlyPhone," said Anne Marie Kelly, SVP, Marketing & Strategic Planning at MRI. "Preliminary data suggests that boys and girls may use their phones differently. Girls are more apt to make calls and send text messages while boys are more likely to instant message, access the Internet and download games, music and video. It will be interesting to explore these data over the next few years and see if this trend continues."

The 2009 American Kids Study, with approximately 5,000 participants from households included in the Survey of the American Consumer, uses an innovative child-friendly questionnaire. In addition to surveying children in the household, MRI asks primary caregivers to fill out a separate questionnaire detailing the child's purchasing influence and activities.

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