One in 10 children aged 10 and under now own an iPhone, according to the latest statistics from cloud services provider Westcoastcloud.
The study, which examined the extent to which technology impacts on young children lives by surveying 2,000 UK parents of children aged 10 and under, revealed that 10% of primary school children now own an iPhone and 5% own an iPad.
When questioned about their attitudes towards children owning mobile phones, many parents said that they felt that it was appropriate for children as young as four years old to own a mobile phone.
Security ranked highly as one of the main reasons for parents purchasing their young children the latest BlackBerry or iPhone, with 68% claiming that they wanted to be able to monitor their children’s whereabouts.
Meanwhile, pressure from their children was also revealed to be one of the reasons parents had chosen to buy their child a mobile phone, with 17% of parents admitting that they had caved to their child's pestering.
While 75% of parents spend around £10 per month on their child's phone bill, 20% admitted to spending up to £20 every month.
Although the majority of under 10’s use their smartphones to make calls, 20% can send text messages, 10% can use the device to go online and 5% can draft and send email on their smartphones.
Westcoastcloud director Bill Strain said: ‘It's great that youngsters are interested and engaged with the latest technology, but children owning their own phones as young as four does seem unnecessary. Kids will always be able to gain access to their parents' phones and laptops but when primary school age children gain access to the internet on these devices, parents need to be aware. There's the potential that they could access unsuitable or potentially harmful content.’
Meanwhile, the study also found that 10% of primary school children had a social networking account despite the required age for signing up to sites such as Facebook or MySpace being 13.
However, potential online risks were revealed after half of the parents questioned admitted that they have no parental controls installed on their internet-connected devices to block access to certain websites, with 12% claiming that their child doesn't really know what they are doing online and regularly they leave them to 'play' on their laptop or tablet.
Will Gardner, CEO of children’s internet charity Childnet International said: ‘With children of a younger and younger age accessing technology, even owning technology, it is all the more important that we are equipping them to navigate these technologies safely.’
Strain added: ‘If parents are happy for their children to be using these products they need to understand that the internet is not a private place. Filtering products are available that can help parents keep their children safe online.’