How old kids are when they receive their first cellphone – South Africa vs the rest of the world

Many German had access to smartphones or computers in their homes, but owning their own mobile device was not as common as it appears to be among children and teens in the United States.

This is according to a new report by CNN, which looked at a number of studies published around the world, to determine the average age children were being given their first phones.

“Back in 2014, around 80% of children owned either a mobile phone or a smartphone; 46% owned a smartphone and 33% a mobile phone,” said Giovanna Mascheroni, a senior lecturer at the Università Cattolica of Milan in Italy and lead author of the study.

“Children in Portugal were more affected by the economic crisis, so they reported not having an internet plan any longer because it was too expensive,” she said.

“In general, though, children across countries were sensitive to costs. They used Wi-Fi networks when possible and switched 3G or 4G off to save money and power.”

The report found that four out of five, or 81%, of secondary school students in South Africa own or have access to a mobile phone, and about 31% have their own social network page.

In comparison, about 46% of children 9 to 16 own a smartphone in Europe, while American children are typically given phones at a slightly younger age.

The “right” age?

Citing the American Academy of Pediatrics, CNN notes that there is no “right” age to expose your child to screens or hand them their own cell phone.

Last year, however, the academy released new recommendations for children’s media use. For instance, it recommended that children younger than 18 to 24 months avoid using digital media regularly, except when video-chatting. The academy also advised that for children 2 to 5, screen time should be limited to one hour per day.

No matter the age, the academy recommended to avoid using media as the only way to calm your child, monitor your child’s media content and what apps are used or downloaded, avoid screens one hour before bedtime, and keep meal times screen-free.


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