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Lifestyle and WellbeingUK Parents Advocate for Child Smartphone Ownership for Enhanced Locational Safety

UK Parents Advocate for Child Smartphone Ownership for Enhanced Locational Safety

Emerging research sheds light on the evolving dynamics of parental concerns and their acceptance of children’s independence alongside technological advancements. A parenting pundit promotes the integration of apps into everyday life as a means to foster familial serenity.

Smartphones are increasingly being recognised by UK parents as crucial for ensuring the safety, self-reliance, and practicality of children in their pre-teen and early adolescent years, according to new findings. The research underscores a prevailing view among parents that a mobile phone becomes necessary for a child by the age of 13, with a significant 67% citing safety and security as the paramount reason for equipping their young ones with a mobile device, surpassing the need for educational tools, convenience, and social interactions.

Insights from Life360, a provider of a family locator app and safety membership service, indicate a noticeable shift from the more liberated childhoods experienced by many parents, characterized by extensive outdoor play and overnight gatherings, to a more vigilant approach in raising their children. A considerable number of UK parents with children under the age of 13, often referred to as ‘Gen Alpha’, perceive themselves as more apprehensive than their predecessors, often opting for more protective measures.

These parents reminisce about their own childhoods, when they were often left alone at home (67%), allowed to commute to school without adult accompaniment (81%), and permitted to venture out with friends without adult supervision (67%).

Now in the role of parents, a majority show a tendency to be more cautious in allowing their children to engage in similar unsupervised activities before reaching their teens, with 60%, 73%, and 59% expressing hesitancy for the respective scenarios mentioned.

In an era where digital proficiency is commonplace among families, a large number of parents are turning to technological solutions to alleviate the anxieties associated with modern parenting, finding reassurance in the ability to more easily track their children’s movements compared to their own childhood experiences.

For parents whose children possess smartphones, an overwhelming majority find solace in the use of location-sharing functionalities, with a significant consensus that it markedly increases their comfort in permitting their children to undertake significant activities such as travelling to school (86%) and visiting city centres or shopping malls with friends (86%) without supervision. As for other aspects of smartphone use, only a small percentage, 30%, express disapproval of their children’s participation in social media.

In light of growing parental concerns, parenting expert Kirsty Ketley has been commissioned by Life360 to develop tips for parents on how to encourage children’s independence in the safest way.

She asserts, “Today, our parenting styles are shaped by the complexities of the modern world. While our parents had their own challenges to navigate, we now face additional considerations such as social media, knife crime, and county/local lines. These factors add to the complexity of fostering independence in our children when they are away from home.

“Apps are a very normal part of the modern world, and using a location-sharing app is a great way for children to allow their parents to know their whereabouts without having to ring or send messages, while also giving parents peace of mind. Of course, children need to know that they are being tracked, but rules can be put in place – jointly made by kids and parents. This way, children can still have their privacy and independence while knowing their parents are there should they need them.”

Even amongst the 40% of parents whose children are yet to acquire a mobile phone, a predominant majority foresee the necessity of active location sharing once their children do (87%), with a significant portion requiring it at all times (57%). The bulk of parents identify location-sharing technology as indispensable, particularly for contacting emergency services and when their child is travelling unaccompanied by an adult.

David Rice, Life360’s International GM and CSO, states, “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, in some cases, vital in emergency situations.”

Sam Allcock
Sam Allcock
With over 20 years of experience in the field SEO and digital marketing, Sam Allcock is a highly regarded entrepreneur. He is based in Cheshire but has an interest in all things going on in the North West and enjoys contributing local news to the site.
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