Press Release | 06 Dec 2023

80% of parents are concerned about affording Christmas gifts

Yet a third of children aged 10-14 want a smartphone this Christmas.

  • Despite over half of parents cutting back on spending, 31% of those with children aged 10-14 will be gifting their children smartphones.
  • Although much-coveted, nearly half (4-in-10) of smartphones gifted to children this festive season will be either lost or broken by Easter.
  • Vodafone research uncovers that more than half (57%) know exactly which device they want and 24% would be happy to have a refurbished one to get their desired make and model.
  • Parents can save up to an additional £168 on refurbished devices before 19 December 2023, helping to ease the cost this Christmas.
  • For the 55% of parents concerned about online safety, Vodafone and the NSPCC have an online platform of resources to provide top tips for buying children their first phone.

A huge 80% of parents are worried about affording gifts this Christmas, with more than half planning to cut back on spending this year. Yet one-in-three will be gifting their children a smartphone to unwrap on Christmas morning, according to new research from Vodafone.

The study, conducted by Vodafone to highlight the benefits and savings to be made buying a refurbished device, found that a smartphone is top of the Christmas wish list for a third of all 10- to 14-year-olds and in the top three for a further third.

Over a third of parents say choosing when to get their child a phone is one of the hardest decisions they make

The new research, into parents' views and concerns about getting their child's first phone, comes as Vodafone and the NSPCC launch their online resource to help parents make an informed decision.

Of the kids who do get their first smartphone this Christmas, one-in-four will have broken or lost it by Easter, according to the research. The study found that a child’s mobile gets dropped six times every day and its average lifespan is only 184 days – that’s just over six months.

The most common fate of the much-prized gift is a cracked screen (48%), while 38% will get a broken casing, 22% a lost charger cable and 13% suffer water damage. One-in-10 kids will lose their smartphone, one-in-20 will drop it down the toilet, and another one-in-20 will sit on it and break it. Thankfully, just 3% of phones will be stolen.

The most common age for children to get their first mobile is 11, although more than one-in-four pester for one before the age of eight. The main reasons parents are keen to buy one is so they can keep in touch with their children and so that the child can ring them in an emergency.

More than half (57%) of youngsters – whose parents were surveyed – know exactly the make and model of what they would like to get as their first device. Almost a quarter (24%) kids would be more than happy to have a refurbished model if that meant they could have their preferred smartphone. Refurbished devices also give parents a planet- and pocket-friendly option, allowing them to get the smartphone their child wants, for less.

‘We need parental controls to protect our kids, but we also need to talk’

As Vodafone UK launches Digital Parenting Pro, a content controls hub for parents and carers, Nicki Lyons, Chief Corporate Affairs & Sustainability Officer, reflects on how resources like this can protect kids from unsuitable content and help families have more informed conversations around online safety.

For the majority of parents, purchasing a device raises concerns around online safety. 47% have taken or plan to take measures to keep their children safe, with two-thirds opting to talk to their children to make them aware of the potential dangers.

Vodafone has partnered with the NSPCC as part of its everyone.connected campaign to launch a growing online platform of resources to help keep children safe online and provide top tips for buying children their first phone. Everyone.connected is committed to tackling digital exclusion by helping four million people and businesses cross the digital divide by 2025.

Nicki Lyons, Chief Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Officer at Vodafone UK said: “We know there will be many first phones purchased this Christmas and that value remains a top priority for families across the UK. Not just because finances remain tight for many, but also because, as the research shows, children’s smartphones get put through their paces. Our refurbished range is a great way for families to get flagship devices for less.

At the same time, navigating the online world for the first time through the eyes of a parent can bring up many new concerns. So, after more than a decade working in the online safety space to support parents with this journey, we are very proud to be partnering with the NSPCC to continue our support for families.”

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Kate Edwards, Associate Head of Child Safety Online at NSPCC said: “Keeping children safe online is at the heart of our partnership with Vodafone and what the NSPCC works to achieve on a daily basis.

We understand that a smartphone is top of the Christmas wish list for many children this year and – despite their excitement at receiving one – it might raise concerns for parents around online safety. We are here to support families as they navigate the online world together.”

Vodafone’s refurbished range comes fully tested with a 32-point health check and all data wiped. They are more affordable and have a lower carbon footprint than buying a new device. They’re fully sanitised and, for complete peace of mind, there’s a 14-day no quibble return policy too.

Vodafone has a range of offers on their refurbished range as part of their Christmas Sale. Customers who want a new smartphone that is kinder to their pocket and kinder to the planet can save up to £168 on the iPhone 14 Pro Max, Samsung Galaxy S22 and iPhone 12.

What’s more, all refurbished phones are available on Vodafone EVO, the smart way to buy a smartphone. With interest-free (0% APR) 3-36 months phone contracts, flexible upfront costs and upgrades as early as 3 months into the plan. This flexible mobile offering lets customers get smartphones at a price that suits them best.

Vodafone & NSPCC 9 safety tips when getting a child their first mobile

  1. Set it up as a ‘child’s phone’
    Speak to your mobile provider about restricting access to certain content and to avoid overspending on the bill.
  1. Turn on apps’ safety settings
    Turn on content filters, chat filters and privacy settings, as well as restrict in-app purchases, on all applications.
  1. Restrict WiFi
    Contact your internet service provider for help in setting up content controls for devices connected to your home’s WiFi.
  1. Talk to your child
    You know when your child is old enough to talk about certain topics without becoming upset or frightened. When talking about risks, be honest but try not to catastrophise.
  1. Check location settings
    Review location settings on their favourite apps and games, then remind your kids that they shouldn’t share their location online.
  1. Know about app safety settings
    For example, TikTok has a Family Pairing feature that links a parent’s account with their child’s. Snapchat offers built-in parental control features, while Instagram has its Parental Guide for Teens with helpful tips.
  1. Don’t forget about online gaming safety
    Check each game’s age rating to make sure it is appropriate and adjust the settings to make sure chat and voice features are turned off. You can set limits on screen time too.
  1. Report harmful online content
    If you are concerned about something your child has seen online, you can visit the NSPCC page about reporting online safety concerns or call the NSPCC helpline.
  1. Know where to go for help and advice
    Vodafone’s online resources are a great place to start, helping you decide which phone is best for your child. You can learn more about safety settings in apps, in games and on devices using Digital Parenting Pro.

Stay up-to-date with the very latest news from Vodafone by following us on Twitter and LinkedIn and signing up for News Centre website notifications.


Vodafone’s online platform and Digital Parenting resources are available to everyone for free.

Vodafone EVO: lets you select a Monthly Device Plan Credit Agreement (3-36 months) with a Monthly Airtime Plan. The device price will be the same whatever you choose. Device Plans over 12 months require a 24-month Monthly Airtime Plan. You can pay off your Device Plan early. If you do, you can then keep your Airtime Plan on a 30-day contract or leave. If your Airtime Plan ends for any reason, you will need to keep on paying your Monthly Device Plan (either in full or monthly). Terms.

Upgrade from month three: means a) buying a new Device Plan (which is a credit agreement) and Xtra Plan (which is an Airtime Plan) and b) either (i) paying off the remaining amount on your current Device Plan prior to upgrading, or (ii) paying for your current Device Plan along with your new Device Plan. Subject to credit check, eligibility & terms.   

Vodafone Assured: means that all refurbished devices had a full diagnostic, visual check and deep clean by our third party refurbished suppliers.  Each device has had a number of extensive tests performed on it to ensure it is fully functional, checking various components of the device, such as the screen, battery and camera. Cosmetic checks are performed to determine if the device is either excellent or great.

Kinder to the Planet (Buying a refurbished phone has a lower carbon footprint than buying a new one), substantiation: A lifecycle assessment study (Pamminger, R., Glaser, S. & Wimmer, W., Modelling of different circular end-of-use scenarios for smartphones. International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment (2021) 26:470-482) found that a refurbished phone (used for an average 1.93 years) can have a 55% lower contribution to climate change (or ‘GWP’) compared to a new phone (used for 2.5 years) (according to the study results shown on page 479).   

Based on this study, buying and using a refurbished phone can be considered to be friendlier for the planet in comparison to buying and using a new phone, because it has a lower negative impact on climate change.

About the NSPCC

The NSPCC is the leading children’s charity fighting to end child abuse in the UK and Channel Islands. Using voluntary donations, which make up around 90 per cent of our funding, we help children who’ve been abused to rebuild their lives, we protect children at risk, and we find the best ways of preventing child abuse from ever happening. So when a child needs a helping hand, we’ll be there. When parents are finding it tough, we’ll help. When laws need to change, or governments need to do more, we won’t give up until things improve.

Our Childline service provides a safe, confidential place for children with no one else to turn to, whatever their worry, whenever they need help. Children can contact Childline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

Our free NSPCC helpline provides adults with a place they can get advice and support, share their concerns about a child or get general information about child protection. Adults can contact the helpline 365 days a year. 

image showing the various ways to contact the NSPCC

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About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK is a technology communications company that connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed-line connections, home and office broadband, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

We have a strong track record as a tech pioneer, making the UK’s first mobile phone call, sending the first text message, and making the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G in 2018. We were the first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester and now have 5G in locations across Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain as well as the UK. Meanwhile, our 4G network coverage currently reaches over 99% of the UK population.

Today, Vodafone serves more than 18 million mobile and fixed-line customers in the UK. Vodafone is the largest provider of full fibre in the UK – our superfast broadband services are now available to nearly 12 million homes across the UK.

Sustainability is also at the heart of what we do: as of 1 July 2021, 100% of the grid electricity we use in the UK is certified to be from renewable sources.

For more information about Vodafone UK, please visit:

Vodafone UK Media Relations

Telephone: +44 (0) 1635 693 693


Twitter: @VodafoneUKNews


Vodafone Limited

Registered Office: Vodafone House, The Connection, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2FN

Registered in England No: 1471587