New mobile survey from Telenor

Press release
9 minute read
Norwegian children are teachers: more than 20 per cent teach their parents how to use a mobile phone. This is one of several findings in a new mobile survey from Telenor. The survey shows that children receive mobile phones earlier, and before parents think it is ok. The division is clearest for 10 year olds: almost all 10 year olds have a mobile phone.

According to a survey carried out by Opinion for Telenor, children get their first mobile phone earlier than before. "The trend with younger and younger mobile users highlights the importance of an early focus on healthy mobile use and safety for children and adults," says Ric Brown, Head of Mobile Private at Telenor.

At the age of 10, most children (88 per cent) have their own mobile phone, according to the survey. Four years ago, 52 per cent of 10 year olds had a mobile phone. In addition, 71 per cent of 9 year olds own or have access to a mobile phone, compared with 57 per cent last year. As many boys as girls have a mobile telephone.

Attitudes to when children should have a mobile have changed considerably only in recent years. The threshold for mobile phones is now 10 years of age, and the percentage of parents who think it is acceptable for their children to have a mobile, increases from 22 to 56 in the transition from nine to ten years. By comparison, in 2002 approximately 11 per cent of parents thought it were acceptable to give a 10 year old a mobile.

But parents still give their children mobile phones before they are actually ready for it themselves, the survey shows. While 93 per cent of 11 year olds get a mobile phone, only 63 per cent of parents say they want to give their children a mobile at that age. When the child is 12 years old, 81 per cent of parents think it is OK to give them a mobile phone.

"Children get their first mobile phone earlier than before, so it is even more important to talk to children about attitudes to using a mobile, because they need to learn about responsible use at an early stage. This may include using imaging functions, costs and bullying," says Ric Brown.

According to the survey, 80 per cent of subscriptions for 11 year olds are registered under a parent's name. This means they can have access to adult or unsuitable content if the child (and age) has not been registered as the user. Even by the age of 17, 63 per cent still have a subscription registered under a parent's name, according to the survey.

"If you have chosen to give a mobile phone to a child, it is vital that parents follow up by choosing a subscription that provides a sensible framework for use, and that they act responsibly by providing the operator with the name and age of the child so that access to unsuitable content can be limited. This provides a safer framework for the parents and child," says Brown.

With increasingly advanced mobile phones and new services on the market, it is apparent that children teach adults about how to use mobile telephones. According to the survey, more than 20 per cent of the children teach adults how to use new functions or services on their mobile phone.

In Telenor's network alone, there are more than 1.8 million camera phones, and 1.1 million music phones. Last year, users downloaded more than 1 million songs to mobile telephones, sent around 2.5 billion SMSs and 60 million MMSs, and made more than 1.1 million video calls.

More findings from the survey:

The most important reasons children were given a mobile:

  • Parents want them to have one
  • Children nagged about it (more girls than boys got a mobile by nagging)
  • Most of their friends had a mobile
  • Older siblings had a mobile

Mobile use and payment

  • The older the child the more they pay themselves for their mobile use:
  • One in ten 10 year olds pays for some or all of their mobile bill
  • 29 per cent of 16 year olds pay for some or all of their mobile bill

61 per cent of 11 year olds' first mobile is a hand-me-down

Internet on a mobile phone

  • Use of a mobile phone to surf the Internet increases with age

  • 26 per cent of all 14 year olds surf the Internet on their mobile

  • More boys than girls surf the Internet on their mobile

Norwegian children teach mobile phone usage

  • 60 per cent of Norwegian 10-14 year olds help adults use a mobile phone

  • 11 per cent of 5-9 year olds have helped adults use their mobile phone better

  • The functions children teach adults most about are: Camera, downloading music, SMS, Internet, MMS, video and radio

  • In all, 21 per cent of Norwegian children teach mobile usage

Telenor has set up its own website about children and mobile phones, and the company is cooperating with organisations such as ChildMinder and Save the Children Norway to promote safe mobile use. The website is at:

About the survey
The survey was carried out by Opinion on behalf of Telenor, and is based on interviews with 600 parents with children aged 5-17 years, in total 1036 children. This is the ninth survey of its kind.

For further information, please contact:
Atle Lessum, information manager, Telenor Norway
Te.:+47 415 05645, e-mail: