FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Cell Phones for Grade Schoolers

In the UK, the fastest growing segment of new cell phone users are children under 10. Likewise, pre-teens in the US are rapidly becoming cell phone customers. Children as young as 5 are getting their own cell phones, whether to be like their older siblings, or to give mom and dad peace of mind in a post-9/11, post-Columbine world. Although the appropriate age for cell phone ownership is a matter of debate, prepaid plans and relaxation of phone bans in schools have made it easier for kids to have them.

Kids are an interesting market segment because they are often the drivers of new phone technology. Unlike adults, who often care only about basic features, children want "cool" ring tones, games and text messaging. As long as pre-teens remain a major consumer force, cell phone manufacturers and carriers will happily oblige. Cell phones are a status symbol among the grade-school set, so these kids take their selection of models very seriously. And, of course, today's kids are the comsumers and decision-makers of tomorrow... so their expectations in the future won't be anything less.

Sources: TheFeature, New York Times, BBC News, Techdirt