Is it alright for my kids to do that?

  • The age-limits parents set their children revealed, including 18-rated films at 14 and Love Island from 13
  • Children given access to online computer-games such as Fortnite at same time they first walk to school alone
  • O2 Family research highlights the everyday challenges parents face, revealing today’s real “age restrictions”

Parents are allowing their children to explore the digital world, including online computer games such as Fortnite, at the same moment they have their first solo explorations of their local neighbourhoods, with lone walks to school only allowed from the same age (11).

The results have been unveiled following research from O2 Family, which revealed the average ages that parents let their children undertake a range of everyday activities.  In addition to highlighting the subjects that cause the most family arguments, the research unearthed a stark comparison between the ages we’ll allow our children to explore the digital world and the ages at which we will give them independence outside of the home in the “real world”.

While parents are careful to ensure their children don’t walk to school alone until 11, go into town unattended until 12 and don’t date until 14, they’re more comfortable about their children using social media (13), playing 12-rated computer games (11) or watching reality TV shows such as Love Island (13).

In fact, the research revealed that children are often being given greater freedom within the walls of their own homes than out of them, with 13 being the average age to stay home alone in contrast to 11 being the average age that children were given access to technology such as TVs, laptops and mobile phones.

Overall the research revealed that the majority of these types of ‘is it alright’ questions appear to stop at age 13, suggesting that parents view becoming a teenager a significant turning point for having wider conversations

But these age decisions aren’t made lightly, with more than nine in ten (92%) parents admitting to having argued about when to allow their children to reach certain milestones. The biggest argument (accounting for 34%) is usually about when it’s appropriate for a child to have a boyfriend or girlfriend stay overnight.  What time children should go to bed (33%), whether they should even have a boyfriend or girlfriend at all (26%), and whether they should be allowed a social media profile (18%) are also causes of family unrest.

The O2 Family research also revealed that parents are unsure of where to get advice on these types of issues with six in 10 (59%) often asking other parents what they think, despite over half (58%) agreeing that people are quick to judge someone’s parenting skills.   Meanwhile, whilst a  quarter of parents (25%) believe their children still do certain activities later than their friends, parents struggle to agree if their children are growing up too fast with 77% of mums believing they grow up too quickly compared to less than two -thirds of dads (65%).

Nina Bibby, CMO at O2 comments, “As a parent myself I know that managing family life in today’s ever changing digital world can be complicated.  It’s often difficult to agree on what we think is best for our children, and every family is unique, which is why we want to help to encourage parents to embrace these conversations and know they are not alone in facing these challenges.

With O2 Family we are offering a range of tools, services and expertise, enabling parents to take control over the part that technology plays in their households, helping them make the most of their family time together.”

The research revealed some of the most common ages that parents will allow their children to do a range of activities;

By the age of 11:

  • walk to school alone
  • play 12+ rated computer games
  • ride as a passenger in the front seat of the car
  • get a mobile phone
  • Play a 12-rated computer game, such as Fortnite

At 12:

  • stay up past 10pm
  • listen to explicit song lyrics
  • have access to WiFi both day and night
  • take a trip to the shops alone

Age 13 is the tipping point for children:

  • full access to Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram
  • watch reality TV, such as Love Island
  • have access to TV streaming services
  • stay at home alone
  • have a girlfriend or boyfriend
  • use the family credit card
  • have their own house keys
  • watch a 15-rated film
  • Turn parental locks off of the TV, internet etc

By 14:

  • get a part-time job
  • watch an 18-rated film
  • Play an 18-rated computer game, like Call of Duty

To find out more about the new O2 Family offering, visit: https://www.o2.co.uk/family

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