Phones are apparently the big ticket item for kids this year, as research reveals one in five kids already own their own, and the rest just want them. Who they gonna call? (Not the Ghostbusters)

We’ve heard it from a few places already, suspected it ourselves, and if the amount of kids holding their parent’s iPhones and Androids hasn’t already given away the goose, well, you can see it coming: kids want phones, and this year, they may just get them.

Research from one of Australia’s other comparison sites (because Pickr is hardly alone) has come out this week citing just how many kids have phones, and how many more will likely expect them.

The survey comes from Finder, which asked a little over two thousand parents about kids and smartphones, discovering that out of that survey sample, one in five ages 12 and under already has a smartphone of their own thanks in part to needing to keep in contact with parents and because they are starting in high school.

In fact, of the people who have given their youngin a smartphone, 22 percent had done so because they had a spare, with 19 percent for the contact and 9 percent because they wanted to play games. The survey was pretty specific, too, discovering that only 6 percent gave into peer pressure because all of their friends had one, while 2 percent tracked their kids over GPS.

Unsurprisingly, as the cost of smartphones drops, they also become an option for kids to get as Christmas presents, though Finder’s (and Vertical Hold’s) Alex Kidman argues that while more kids will likely receive a phone in the coming weeks, “it can be a mixed blessing”.

“Your children are easier to reach, it’s true,” said Kidman, “but giving your child a smartphone can open the door to many problems such as sky high bills or online risks.”

“It’s important that children have a good balance between screen time and other activities,” he said. “The last thing you want to do is distract them from homework or just being kids.”

And the other thing you may not want to do is spend a thousand dollars on a present, as while some phones may end up being expensive, there are plenty of others that get in well and truly under that price tag. A second-hand makes just as much sense, though a new budget phone at least helps to cement that their phone is new and theirs, and if they break it, that’s all they’ll have, if any at all.

“Just like your parents gave you a bomb of a first car, do the same with smartphones,” said Kidman. “Or consider giving an old fashioned mobile phone without internet to see if they can do without a smartphone for as long as possible.

A technology journalist working out of Sydney, Australia, Leigh has written for publications including The Australian Financial Review, GadgetGuy, Popular Science, APC, PC & Tech Authority, as well as for radio and TV since 2007.

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