Mobile phones must be able to connect with other devices and become a ‘remote control for life’ to satisfy demanding under-18s who represent the next generation of consumers, according to a new research report.
International consumer research specialist Intersperience asked 1,000 young people in the UK between age eight and 18 their views on mobiles, how they use them and how they would like to use them in future.
The findings, released today, Feb. 20, are part of a comprehensive ‘Digital Futures’ study of how under-18s engage with technology, particularly with internet-enabled devices.
The research found that 42% of under-18s want to use a mobile to control other devices in future, compared to just 24% of adults. Children are also keener than adults on embracing new developments such as using a smartphone to buy things, with 33% expecting to use a mobile for payment and purchase and 25% expecting to use their phone as a ‘mobile wallet‘ – significantly higher than for adults.
Under-18s already use mobiles for more functions than adults, particularly for games, photos, music and making videos. Children and teens are also four times more comfortable using their phones to store personal information than their parents.
In future young people want interconnectivity between mobiles and other digital devices and even household services such as cable or satellite TV or utility supplies. Eight to 11 year olds have the highest expectations from mobiles of the future with a strong emphasis on interconnectivity with entertainment functions such as gaming and movies.
Intersperience chief executive Paul Hudson said: “For under-18s the future is uncompromisingly mobile. They have a vision of a powerful multi-functional mobile which can connect with and control an array of other devices and services from a Sky+ box to home heating or lighting systems and functions we haven’t even thought of yet.”
The findings imply that software developers, phone companies and service providers in general need to accelerate efforts in this area if they are to satisfy a generation of consumers for whom greater inter-connectivity, versatility and functionality are important factors.
Mobiles are reducing PC usage by children – twice as many under-18s said they would choose a phone over a PC for music downloads, emails or research while an even higher ratio would rather make purchases via mobile rather than via a PC.
In terms of affordability, the study found that smartphones are now within the reach of the current generation of teenagers with parents generally willing to pay around GBP20 a month to cover their children’s mobile bills.
It also revealed significant ‘pester power’ among children who put pressure on parents to buy them a mobile from as young as eight. Parents frequently buy children an iPod Touch as a compromise before caving in to pressure to buy a mobile and the majority regard age 11 as an appropriate age for a child to receive first mobile.
Intersperience conducted a survey among 1,000 young people in the UK between the ages of eight and 18 on how they use the internet and internet-enabled devices. Participants mirrored the general UK population in terms of social class and of the total group, 35% were aged between eight and 11, 37% were aged 12 to 14, and the remainder were aged 15 to 17.
In addition, the team carried out qualitative research among 15 families with children aged from two to 18 which included participation in family tasks such as video diaries, communication logs and mood diaries.
Researchers also carried out 23 in-depth family interviews including 11 face-to-face interviews with under 18s. Field research was carried out between July and August 2011.