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Safety Is Catalyst for Teen and Tween Mobile Subscriber Growth

JupiterResearch, a leading authority on the impact of the Internet and emerging consumer technologies on business, anticipates growth of tween (children ages eight to 12) and teen cell phone subscribers will outpace that of the overall US population. Highlighted in a new report, “Mobile Subscriber Acquisition: Marketing to Parents, Teens, and Tweens,” JupiterResearch found that data habits of tweens and teens will make them a potentially lucrative segment for wireless carriers and mobile content players.

According to the study, parents who have become accustomed to the convenience and utility of cell phones are purchasing them for their children in large part because of safety. Regardless of age, the ability for the child to reach the parent was cited as the main reason for adding children to existing mobile phone plans. Although cost is a factor, pricing structures have become more advantageous; such enticements as free phones are swaying parental decisions.

“Cell phone ownership is extending to ever-younger children as prices drop and carriers look to add subscribers in a market where adult penetration rates are closing in on their long-term maximum, ” said Julie Ask, Vice President and Research Director at JupiterResearch. “The majority of children with cell phones are on their parents’ wireless service plan well into adulthood due to the economics and convenience of adding family members to plans. Wireless service providers have made it an easy decision for parents to add their second graders by allowing family members to share minutes, adding free in-network calling, and offering options that help parents track their children and manage service costs.”

Cell phone adoption for tweens will grow dramatically in the next 12 months. According to parents, nearly one-half of children ages 12 or 13 will have a cell phone by the end of 2007, while one-third of children ages 10 or 11 will have a cell phone in the same period. JupiterResearch finds that cost is more of an enabler than a motivator of cell phone adoption among youth–18 percent of parents added their young child to existing plans because it was economical to do so. But parents are still reluctant to add children younger than 10, believing it’s unnecessary.

“Mobile communications may be gaining wider acceptance, but it’s clear there is still a line that consumers, especially parents of younger children, aren’t quite ready to cross,” said David Schatsky, President of JupiterResearch. “Safety and security has a different meaning for a parent, depending on the age of the child. For older teens, the catalyst may be going away to college for the first time, for younger teens, it may be the convenience of a parent being able to reach the child. Whatever the definition, it is apparent that it is applied differently based on the age of a child.”

The complete findings of this report are immediately available to JupiterResearch clients online at For details on JupiterResearch’s methodology, visit or email to request a detailed methodology statement. For additional information on this report or JupiterResearch’s Wireless research service, visit or contact Kieran Kelly, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Client Service, at 1-800-481-1212 or

About JupiterResearch
JupiterResearch provides unbiased research, analysis and advice, backed by proprietary data, to help companies profit from the impact of the Internet and emerging consumer technologies on their business. The company helps online businesses make critical decisions about technology selection, spending, staffing, and Web site effectiveness; advises consumer-facing companies with online advertising, marketing, and customer service strategies to understand, attract, convert and retain customers; and guides technology vendors and service providers on market opportunity, positioning, product definition, and pricing. JupiterResearch is headquartered in New York City and has offices throughout the US and Europe. For more information, visit

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