Smartphones are playing an increasingly role in our kids’ lives. A new study we’ve just released finds Aussie kids are now, on average, just 12 when they first get a smartphone.

It’s a different world to the one I grew up in. I didn’t get a mobile until I was in my mid-twenties – and then it was just sophisticated enough to handle calls and text messages.

Today kids are diving head first into the online world earlier.

As part of our research we asked parents how and why they give their child a smartphone. 65 per cent said they gave their kids a smartphone for the peace-of-mind it brought, such as being able to contact children when needed.

However parents said access to a smartphone can be a double-edged sword. Specifically our research found:

  • 79 per cent of parents surveyed fear their child will receive unsolicited contact from a stranger and 74 per cent are concerned about the online content kids’ access
  • 39 per cent of parents say social media apps on smartphones distract their kids from studying
  • And, they say smartphones can encroach on bedtime, with 66 per cent of parents saying their children use smartphones between 9pm and midnight on school nights

Introducing free tools to help keep your kids safe on smartphones

Despite the upsides, as the research shows there are challenges that come with young people owning smartphones.

That’s why if you’re a Telstra mobile customer on a contract we’re now offering you free access to Telstra Mobile Protect – a service that helps you tailor how your children access their mobile phone or tablet service to their needs and maturity.

With Telstra Mobile Protect, you can set time-of-day limits on calls and mobile web use, block unwanted calls and texts, choose the mobile web content that can be accessed and manage outgoing calls to specific contacts, over the Telstra Mobile Network.

Mobile Protect is managed through an easy-to-use web portal where you can:

  • Block unwanted calls or callers, texts or texters made over the Telstra Mobile Network – Manage a list of numbers kids can call, text or be called and text by on their phone.
  • Set up a safe list of numbers and websites – Choose numbers that can always be accessed.
  • Manage the time kids can spend online and making calls – Place time-of-day limits on web browsing and phone calls so they have distraction-free homework periods and internet-free bedtimes.
  • Choose the mobile web content which can be accessed – Mobile Protect allows parents to select internet browsing profiles that are tailored for young children and teens that permit some sites, while blocking adult-oriented content.

If you’re interested in adding Mobile Protect to your kid’s mobile or smartphone, head to the features section of the plans and usage tab on your Telstra My Account page.

My First Mobile Agreement

We’re also launching a ‘My First Mobile Agreement’ – a free downloadable tool that allows you and your kids to agree proper and safe smartphone behaviour.

It outlines some basic ground rules for your kids to follow, but also includes rules for parents!