Kids are getting smartphones younger

In the last 6 years, the number of tweens with smartphones has nearly doubled.

Selina Lee / The Hustle

Back in my day, having your own mobile phone as a kid meant it was a Nokia 3585i that let you play “Snake.” Today’s kids? They’re getting those newfangled smartphones younger and younger.

The number of tweens — defined as children ages 8-12 — with their own smartphones increased from 24% in 2015 to 43% in 2021, per a survey from Common Sense Media.

How come?

A Pew Research survey asked parents of kids 11 and younger why they gave them smartphones.

Most listed making it easy for their children to contact them (78%) and vice versa (73%) as a major reason. Less significant reasons included entertainment, to do their homework, and because their friends and classmates have them.

At the same time, districts that once banned phones have reversed course as parents’ worries over school shootings and violence have, unfortunately, increased.

What exactly do kids do on their phones anyhow?

Tweens and teens were asked to identify the types of media activities they participated in daily across screens. For tweens, top activities include:

  • Online videos: 64%
  • Watching TV: 65%
  • Games: 43%
  • Reading: 34%

Interestingly, when asked which activities they enjoy “a lot,” tweens preferred online videos to regular ol’ TV — stuff like game streams, unboxing challenges, and music videos.

BTW: The history of “Snake” on Nokia phones is way more interesting than you’d think.

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Psst

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