More U.S. Parents Pay Kids’ Cell Phone Bill


NEW YORK (MainStreet) –  Americans are more likely to pay their child’s monthly cell phone bill than parents in other countries, according to Nielsen.

The market research company found that young adults ages 20-24 in the U.S. are the most likely to say someone else is funding their cell phone use, with only 45% saying they pay for their own service. In contrast, 88% of this age group in Russia pays their own cell phone bill.

Nielsen obtained the figures by conducting a series of surveys in eight countries: Russia, Germany, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, India and the United States. Eighty-four percent of parents in Germany pay their own bill, while 54% do in India, the country that finished closest to the U.S.

In cases where children were younger, or ages 15-19, the U.S. finished above two countries, India and Italy, with 27% of teens saying they paid their monthly cell phone bill. However, it still paled in comparison to most of the other measured countries. Fifty-six percent of teens ages 15-19 in both Germany and Brazil said they pay for their cell phones themselves. Check here for a full breakdown by country.

According to according to Roger Entner, senior vice president of Nielsen's telecom practice's research and insights group, parents in the U.S. can blame the financing on the availability of family plans. 

“American wireless carriers make it very easy for parents to add family members to their existing plan,” Etner says, pointing out that these plans typically cost as little as $5 to $10. “In Europe and other parts of the world, everybody stands on their own. You can’t share minutes. You have to add another account.”

Etner says that what makes parents in other countries further less inclined to foot the bill for their child is that most mobile plans overseas are prepaid.

“Parents have to fork other the money month to month. They would have to do something actively to pay the bill,” Etner adds. “In the U.S., you have to do something actively to get them off of the plan.”

This is why, Etner explains college-aged kids in the U.S. keep getting Mom and Dad to pay for cellular use.  “As long as they’re not running them into bankruptcy, they never get taken off of the plan.”

Nielsen reports American teens send or receive 3,339 texts a month. If you’re thinking about adding your child to a family plan, check out MainStreet’s breakdown of the best cell phone plans for texting.

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