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Saturday, April 20, 2024

UK Parents Embrace Smartphones for Children’s Safety and Location Tracking

Insights into the evolving concerns and perspectives of parents on children’s independence and technology use are unveiled. An expert in parenting encourages the adoption of applications as commonplace in the digital age, ensuring family contentment.

The importance of smartphones for the well-being, autonomy, and practicality of children in their pre-teen and early teenage years is increasingly acknowledged by British parents, as revealed by recent research. The study shows a consensus among parents that children should own a mobile phone by age 13, with 67% prioritising safety and security as the chief reason for providing their child with a handset, overshadowing educational requirements, convenience, and social engagement.

Data from Life360, a family locator application and safety membership service, illustrates a departure from the more carefree childhood experiences of many parents, marked by extensive outdoor activities and overnight stays with friends, to a more protective parenting approach for their children. A large portion of UK parents with children aged 13 or younger, referred to as ‘Gen Alpha’, consider themselves to be more worried than their parents were, adopting additional precautionary measures.

Looking back, these parents recall being left at home alone (67%), travelling to school unsupervised (81%), and hanging out with friends without adult supervision (67%) during their own childhoods.

Yet, as they navigate parenthood, the majority are now more reluctant to permit their children similar freedoms before their teenage years, with 60%, 73%, and 59% expressing reservations about the activities mentioned above, respectively.

In today’s tech-savvy family environments, numerous parents are leveraging technology to mitigate the stresses of modern parenting, comforted by the ease of monitoring their children’s locations compared to their own upbringing.

For those parents whose children are equipped with smartphones, a significant majority appreciate the peace of mind provided by location-sharing features, with many agreeing that it greatly influences their decision to allow their children more independence in activities such as commuting to school (86%) and visiting urban centres or malls with peers (86%) unsupervised. When it comes to other smartphone functionalities, a mere 30% object to their children’s use of 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 articulates, “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.”

Among the 40% of parents whose offspring do not yet possess a mobile phone, the vast majority intend to implement compulsory location sharing once their children acquire one (87%), with more than half demanding continuous tracking (57%). Most parents consider location-sharing capabilities essential, especially for emergencies and when their offspring are journeying without an adult.

David Rice, the International GM and CSO at Life360, comments, “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 Allcockhttps://businesslancashire.co.uk/
Sam Allcock is a highly regarded digital entrepreneur with over 20 years’ experience in online marketing for some of the World’s biggest brands. He has extensive knowledge and experience in SEO and digital marketing. 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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