Wednesday, July 6, 2011

But My Best Friend Has One

Today, our guest post comes from Peter Gold, the CEO of Veraquest. His broad range of research experience lends itself particularly well to the world of omnibus research where clients tend to have an extremely diverse set of needs. Peter’s background as a practice leader has enabled him to develop a business model that is rich in client-centric benefits while simultaneously being very cost-effective. Peter earned a BSBA from the University of Florida and holds an MBA from Boston College.  His company, VeraQuest is a Sponsor at this year's The Market Research Event.

But My Best Friend Has One

In mid-April, we completed a study on cell phone ownership among children and teens. And, to say that we Americans are a nation divided in our opinions would be an understatement. On average, U.S. adults (who believe it is appropriate for a child to own a phone) say age 13 is the ideal starting age. But really there is no consensus on what the appropriate (or bare minimum) age is ….

  • 11% say it’s totally fine for kids at age 10 or even younger (of which 2% say younger than 7 years old).
  • A plurality (40%) say middle school (ages 11-14) is the right time.
  • 34% say a child needs to be at least a sophomore in high school (ages 15-17).
  • And 15% say no child should get a cell phone until he or she is fully grown-up and able to vote (i.e., ages 18+).


But even looking at the total U.S. population doesn’t tell the whole story. As with most things child-centric (e.g., ear piercing, snowboarding, planning for the prom), peer pressure, economics, and maybe even some good old fashioned whining and begging come into play. According to the data:

  • Higher income adults are almost twice as likely (as adults with household incomes $75K or below) to say that cell phones are acceptable for kids under age 11 …. perhaps because they can afford the phone and the accompanying texting fees that their young adults are sure to drum up.
  • Families with children under 18 in the household are nearly 3 times more likely to say cell phones are appropriate for kids 10 and younger …. perhaps because they recognize the value or the need, or they just buckle under the pressure of their pushy pre-teen.

Otherwise interestingly enough, there are no differences by region of the country or gender or education.

Do you have kids in your household? Have you or they taken a stand on getting a cell phone? What’s your age threshold? Not unlike the average, my kids were 15 and 12. My older one paved the way.

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