Parent poll on smartphones — March 2024

Following the government’s guidance for mobile phones in schools issued on 19th February 2024, backing headteachers in prohibiting the use of mobile phones throughout the school day, including at break times, Parentkind commissioned a poll to speak to 2,496 parents in England, asking them about their views on banning smartphones and attitudes towards social media.

Findings from the poll show that:

  • 58% of parents would support the idea of introducing a ban on smartphones for under 16s, while 33% of parents oppose the idea.
  • Parents of primary school age children are terrified” as 77% back a ban on smartphones for under 16s.
  • 8 in 10 (83%) parents say that smartphones are harmful to children.

Cracking down on smartphones and social media is set to become a big issue in this year’s General Election. With these newly collected findings, we at Parentkind are now calling on all parties to put a smartphone ban in their manifestos.

Download the results

Key findings 

Parents back a smartphone ban

According to the poll, the vast majority (84%) of all parents who have not given their children a smartphone support a ban, with 77% of parents of primary school aged children and 58% of all parents backing a ban.

The Parentkind charity says this points to worries among parents of younger children that their children will become ensnared” by a smartphone once they reach secondary school.

Parents of primary school parents want protection from social media harms

The poll uncovers big gaps between parents of primary school age children and those with children at secondary school.

Parents of primary school age children are much more likely than parents of secondary school age children to back a smartphone ban (77% vs 16%). Parents of primary school age children are also more likely than parents of secondary school age children to say smartphones are harmful to children and young people (94% vs 71%).

Parents of primary school age children are much more likely than parents of secondary school age parents to agree that the minimum age for accessing social media should be raised (90% vs 67%).

Smartphones are harmful, say parents

In other findings from the poll more than 8 in 10 (83%) of parents say that smartphones are harmful to young people and almost 7 in 10 (69%) say that limiting children’s access to smartphones would make life easier for them as parents.

According to the poll children have no escape from abuse” with 89% of parents saying they are concerned about online bullying. 87% of parents are concerned that their children might access harmful content online and 85% expressed concern that their children might develop unrealistic expectations about body image or lifestyle.

Parents are worried about social media

More than 9 in 10 parents (93%) think social media is harmful to children.

Almost all (95%) parents want social media giants and tech companies to do more to protect children from harmful content with strong support for tougher sanctions on these companies.

Children are typically allowed to sign-up for social media accounts from age 13 but the poll finds 80% of parents feel this age limit is too low and should be raised.

Parentkind CEO Jason Elsom said:

Society has sleepwalked into a position where children are addicted to harmful electronic drugs’ and have no escape from their digital dealers. We are starting to understand the harms of social media and the unrestricted gateway smartphones provide to vile online content but it seems parents already get it.

Most parents want the government to help them overcome the peer pressure that leads to their children needing mobile phones by banning these devices and a huge majority of parents of primary school children back a ban because they are terrified of their children becoming ensnared by a smartphone as they get older. Parents are worried that children have no escape from online bullies and abuse.

The pressure is starting to mount on the Government to act and political parties to come together on this issue to protect children. This should be as uncontroversial as banning vaping for children. Every party should put a ban on smartphones in their manifesto, something we will be calling for along with parent groups across the country.”

Download the results


This research was conducted online by Parentkind between 19th February — 4th March 2024 amongst 2,496 parents in England with at least one child aged 4–18. The figures have been weighted by public polling agency We Think to be representative of all parents in England based on the age and gender profile of children.

Figures quoted in these results may not appear to total 100% due to rounding to the nearest whole number.