When you think of children spending money, the first thing that comes to mind is probably a handful of pocket change rather than racking up credit card bills.
But according to a new survey of British families, the most common age that parents start letting their offspring use the family plastic is at just 13 years old.
The survey didn’t highlight how regularly this is happening or how much they’re spending, but did shed light on the age at which parents relax rules for their kids and what they’re allowed to do both at home and out in the world.
While parents are careful to ensure their children don’t walk to school alone until 11 or go into town unattended until 12, they’re more comfortable about their children using social media (age 13), playing 12-rated computer games (age 11) or watching reality TV shows such as Love Island (age 13).
They also found that many parents weren’t letting their children date until they reach 14.
The results have been unveiled following research from O2 Family found that 11 is when most children can ride as a passenger in the front seat of the car and get a mobile phone.
Aged 12, they were allowed to stay up past 10pm, listen to explicit song lyrics, have unrestricted access to WIFI and go to the shops alone.
Becoming a teenager seemed to be a turning point for many parents, with the list of acceptable everyday activities getting longe from age 13: full access to social media, access to TV streaming services, staying home alone, having their own house keys, watching a 15-rated film and turning parental locks off on the TV and web.
It was also at this age that the majority of these types of ‘is it alright’ questions appear to stop, suggesting parents view becoming a teenager as a significant turning point for having greater freedoms.
But these age decisions aren’t made lightly, with 92% parents admitting to having argued about when to allow their children to reach certain milestones.
The biggest argument, accounting for just over one third (34%), is usually about when it’s appropriate for a child to have a boyfriend or girlfriend stay overnight, closely followed by what time children should go to bed (33%).
“As a parent myself I know that managing family life in today’s ever changing digital world can be complicated,” says Nina Bibby, chief marketing officer, at O2. “It’s often difficult to agree on what we think is best for our children, and every family is unique.”
The survey also revealed that many parents are unsure of where to get advice on these types of issues, with six in 10 parents relying on asking others, despite 58% agreeing they are quick to judge someone’s parenting skills.
Despite relying on advice from fellow parents, a quarter believe their children still do certain activities later than their friends.