British tabloid Metro reports that five years from now an astonishing ninety per cent of six year olds will have their own mobile phones, according to a prediction in a study commissioned by a leading telecommunications company. The statistic is said to come from a paper on global communications by Swedish handset manufacturer Ericsson, which also predicts that the pinnacle of the ‘communications boom’ that has characterised the industry for the past fifteen years is in fact yet to happen. Other media have reported however, that the figure of ninety per cent refers to the world’s population from the age of six onwards.
As more parents adopt advanced mobile technology, many of them are also introducing young children to smartphones in particular, as they are useful as playing devices for games and educational apps, as well as keeping youngsters from hassling busy and stressed parents. As more and more children experience mobile technology from toddler-age onwards, the reluctance of parents to gift phones to younger children will decrease. Even as more and more junior schoolers do own their own gadgets, a lot of parents are also increasingly concerned by the trend for younger and younger children to possess mobiles, as studies have found that increasing exposure to social networking sites and the internet are causing children to mature faster, as well as causing tough issues regarding child protection. The majority of parents in a recent poll by BullGuard admitted they worry their children are growing up too quickly, and 77 per cent blamed the web. They attributed this accelerated maturity, in particular, to peer pressure from friends and schoolmates, the vast amount of information they see online, and social networks – according to a news report by independent site NyoozTrend.
Rima Qureshi, Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at Ericsson said: “The falling cost of handsets, coupled with improved usability and increasing network coverage, are factors that are making mobile technology a global phenomenon that will soon be available to the vast majority of the world’s population, regardless of age or location.
“The Ericsson Mobility Report shows that in 2020 the world will be connected like never before.“
The Mobility Report, which tracks trends around mobiles, data and networks worldwide, suggests that the number of smartphones in use globally will explode by 2020. Currently there are 2.7 billion in circulation today, mainly in developed countries such as the US and Japan, but the growth of both wealth and mobile phone markets in developing countries will cause the smartphone population to swell to 6.1 billion. In 2014 alone, there have been 800 million new smartphone subscriptions worldwide, with India and China seeing the greatest expansion in new customers.
The company also expects people’s phone habits to change, with customers more like to use their handsets to send videos instead of texts, as video recording capacity inevitably improves. Fifty-five per cent of mobile data sent across mobile networks is expected to be video footage. Web browsing using inbuilt browsers on mobile phones will fare less well. Ericsson predicts mobile surfing to decline in importance as users make the jump to smart televisions and tablets.
“The relative share of traffic generated by web browsing will have declined by 2020 as a result of stronger growth in categories such as video and social networking. Consumer preferences are shifting towards more video and app-based mobile use relative to web browsing,” the company said.
“Many smartphones now have larger screens, enabling higher picture quality for streamed video. Video content is increasingly appearing as part of other online applications; for example, news, advertisements, and social media.”
In the United Kingdom, it is estimated that three-quarters of children aged ten own a mobile phone, according to the Daily Mail, that is twice as many as children in other countries. A third of under-tens keep a mobile, usually paid for by parents or carers. The BBC gives figures that ninety per cent of UK 11-16 year olds own a mobile, with ten per cent of teenagers spending more than forty-five minutes a day making voice calls. A study by comparison website USwitch.com, also in the UK, claims that nearly one in ten children receive their first phone by the age of five – with the average parent spending £125 on their child’s handset plus £11 per month on credit.