Kids Choose Phones and Tablets Over Pets and Holidays, According to American Parents

  • 31% think gadgets are the most important thing to their children, over toys, holidays and pets
  • 8 years old is the age parents think their kids’ knowledge of tech outstrips their own
  • 84% of American parents have downloaded Instagram and Facebook simply because their kids were on it
  • 87% of American parents think technology will help their children in their future careers and 40% think it gives them confidence

NEW YORK, Sept. 25, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- One in three American parents believe their kids value their phones and tablets more than any other possession or activity, while they also believe by the age of 8 their children will understand the way modern gadgets work better than parents do themselves.

These are the key findings from research commissioned by Hotwire, a global communications agency, as part of an ongoing global investigation into the way technology will impact the lives of Generation Alpha – children born after 2010.

Last year Hotwire and Wired Consulting produced a report alongside neuroscientists, cultural commentators and educators to shine a light on how technology will shape the next generation and what they will expect from it. This year, Hotwire’s latest report turns to the parents to show just how big a role tech plays in family life, specifically exploring how parents feel about the relationship between their children and the technology they use.

In the U.S., parents agreed that Generation Alpha is learning tech skills at a much faster rate than they are learning. In fact, the research reveals that parents believe that by the time their children are eight, they won’t be able to keep up with the way their kids use technology, leaving them unsure how to help them in the future.

To try to keep up with their kids, there’s a clear trend towards parents downloading apps or joining social networks for their children, with 84% of parents saying they downloaded Instagram and Facebook because their kids were on it. Digging into this further, parents say that they are engaging with these apps and social networks like Facebook (27%), Instagram (22%), YouTube (22%) and WhatsApp (20%) to understand how they impact their children. While that may be part of the reason, with only 2% of U.S. parents saying that they aren’t on social media, it’s clear that parents are also using those networks for their own purposes, too.

As kids get savvier, parents are also increasingly considering their kids’ needs when buying electronics for their own use. When asked about their last major tech purchase, half (54%) of American parents said they considered how their children would use it and a fourth (25%) asked their children’s opinion first. The findings show that American parents believe their kids view their gadgets as the most important thing in their life, with 31% saying a phone or tablet tops their kid’s list, compared to days out with the family (18%), toys (18%), pets (7%) and holidays (5%).

And who influences our children the most? Despite the steady growth in influencers and now micro-influencers, it’s actually still just about keeping up with The Jones. 37% of American parents say their children are most likely to ask them to buy a toy or gadget because a friend has it, while 22% say their children are most swayed by online influencers.

But despite the admitted huge impact that technology is having on their children, American parents are actually optimistic about the benefits engaging with technology brings to their children. In fact, 87% of parents think technology will help their children’s future careers and 40% believe that technology helps their children’s confidence.

“As a parent of Generation Alpha myself, I’m experiencing first-hand how technology is just natural to today’s children. From turning the lights on by talking at Alexa, to expecting that a robot does the vacuuming, and preferring to watch YouTube videos of the latest Beyblade battles versus playing it in real-life, Generation Alpha’s digital prowess is staggering,” said Laura Macdonald, head of consumer, North America at Hotwire. “American parents aren’t scared of technology today, but recognize it is now an essential skill for getting a good job tomorrow. While screen time shouldn’t overshadow kids getting the right amount of exercise and playing outdoors, it can no longer be seen as a cheap way to entertain the kids, but as a necessary tool to helping build a brighter future.”

To read the full report of The Parents of Generation Alpha, please click here. This report will be discussed on-stage at the ANA Masters of Marketing on October 27 in Orlando, Florida.

Notes to editor
The research was carried out by OnePoll on behalf of Hotwire in July 2018, with a sample size of 8,000 people with children aged between four and nine years-old across the following countries:

  • UK
  • USA
  • France
  • Germany
  • Spain
  • Italy
  • The Netherlands
  • Australia

About Hotwire
Hotwire, the global communications agency, helps CMOs better engage and connect with their customers. From Sydney to San Francisco, we operate with a borderless mind-set across 22 locations including the UK, US, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Australia, together with co-branded partners Yellow Communications in the Netherlands and Belgium, Active DMC in the Middle East and VIANEWS in Brazil, as well as other affiliate partners. For more information, please visit

About Enero 
Hotwire is wholly owned by Enero Group Limited, a company listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX:EGG). The Enero Group is a boutique network of marketing and communications businesses that includes BMF, CPR, Frank PR, Hotwire, Naked Communications, OB Media, Precinct, Orchard Marketing, The Digital Edge and The Leading Edge. For more information, please visit