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Study pinpoints British children’s age of independence

children's age of independence

British kids are allowed to play outside unsupervised at 10, get their first smartphone at 11 and stay home alone at 13, according to a study.

Amid the worries facing modern parents – from social media usage to making friends at school – mums and dads were polled to identify the age today’s kids are allowed to do certain activities.

It emerged they are willing to let their little ones start earning their own money by doing odd jobs such as a paper round at 13 years old, having first started to receive pocket money aged nine.

They can also walk to and from school alone from 11 years old and go for a sleepover at their friend’s house at 12.

The study of 2,000 parents was commissioned by Sky Mobile, which enables customers to “roll” over unused data at the end of each month – and share it with other SIMs within their household.

It also found kids start to become less reliant on their mums and dads at the age of 12.

This ‘age of independence’ is also the stage they are given additional freedoms and responsibilities – such as greater access to the internet and owning different tech.

Sophia Ahmad, director of Sky Mobile, said: “Irrespective of age, all children mature at different rates and there’s no magic number that suits everyone.  

“For parents considering buying their children their first phone, features such as Sky Mobile’s Roll will help mums and dads keep track of monthly data usage across the whole household.”

The research also found eight in 10 parents think children are growing up faster as a direct result of advances in technology.

According to the study, kids now start to ask for a smartphone from around nine years of age – but don’t typically get one for another two years.

Further to this, one in eight are planning to buy, or have already bought their child a phone for their return to school.

The main motivation for buying their child a mobile for 57 per cent of parents is to keep in touch on the way to and from school.

However, the Sky Mobile study carried out through OnePoll also found 51 per cent admit they worry about their child racking up huge bills.

While three quarters said they restrict the time their kids spend using their smartphones.

Carolyn Bunting, chief executive of Internet Matters, which Sky is a founding member of, said: “More than ever, children are growing up with access to a range of connected devices and services.

“And it is encouraging to see Sky not only developing products that work for families, but ones that ensure children’s wellbeing and safety are prioritised.

“A child’s first smart phone often coincides with the move to secondary school, and it’s important we equip children with the right knowledge and tools to navigate their new and exciting online world”.

Sky has launched a range of initiatives to keep children safe online and when they’re watching TV – for further details go to


  • Be given pocket money:  9 years old
  • Play with friends outside your home unsupervised: 10 years old
  • Own a mobile phone: 11 years old
  • Walk to and from school alone: 11 years old
  • Go to a local park alone: 11 years old
  • Spend a night away on a school trip: 11 years old
  • Go to a city centre/local town alone: 12 years old
  • Have a sleepover at a friend’s house: 12 years old
  • Start earning their own money by babysitting or a paper round: 13 years old
  • Stay at home in the evening without a babysitter: 13 years old

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