13th September 2013

Age of the app: Children spending online before getting money lessons at school

The majority of children aged 8-11 are shopping online, buying apps and have bank accounts before the age that the Government is planning to introduce formal financial education for school pupils.

The majority of children aged 8-11 are shopping online, buying apps and have bank accounts before the age that the Government is planning to introduce formal financial education for school pupils.

Online research by YouGov for the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) and financial education charity pfeg (Personal Finance Education Group) shows that:

  • 64 percent of children get their first bank or building society account before they start secondary school
  • 63 percent of children get their first mobile phone before they start secondary school
  • 58 percent of children bought something online or had something bought for them online for the first time before they were 12
  • 68 percent of 8-15 year olds have access to a tablet/iPad and of these users 55 percent have downloaded a paid for app either on their own or with help on their tablet or smartphone
  • This figure is higher when you focus on 8-11 year olds with over 74 percent of these primary school aged children having access to a tablet/iPad and of these users 57 percent have downloaded a paid for app either on their own or with help on their tablet or smartphone

Despite this children have a worrying lack of knowledge about banking and personal finance:

  • Just 23 percent of 8-15 year olds have heard of a current account and understood how it worked and only 13 percent aware of overdrafts claim they understood them well
  • Nearly three quarters of 15 year olds with a bank account have a debit card but 72 percent of 15 year olds never use online banking

While both the BBA and pfeg welcome the fact that the Government is looking to introduce financial education into the secondary school curriculum for September 2014, they are concerned that there is still no provision for primary school children or those in the Government’s flagship free schools and academies. Given that more than 2 million children are being taught in academies and free schools, the Government needs to address this gap. 

Anthony Browne, BBA Chief Executive, said:

“We very much welcome the fact that the Government is introducing financial education in secondary schools. However, this research shows that most primary school children are dealing in financial matters before they have had any formal financial education which would help them understand the consequences of their decisions. Being able to handle money issues properly is one of the most important life skills for all of us, helping protect people from debt problems and financial distress. That’s why we would like the Government to extend these important lessons to all children.”

Tracey Bleakley, Chief Executive of pfeg (Personal Finance Education Group), said:

“These figures show just how many financial decisions young people are now being faced with from an early age.  Securing a place for financial education in the secondary National Curriculum has been a huge step forward, but we need to build on this victory by extending it to all primary schools as well.  We know from experience that the earlier financial education starts, the more effective it is in giving young people the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to manage their money well.”

Key online findings:

Mobiles, smartphones and tablets

  • 63 percent of children got their first mobile phone by the age of 11
  • Around half (49 percent) of 8 to 15 year olds own their own smartphone, while a further 30 percent have regular access to someone else’s smartphone
  • 68 percent of 8-15 year olds have access to a tablet/ ipad and of these users 55 percent of 8-15 year olds have downloaded a paid for app either on their own or with help on a tablet or smartphone
  • This figure is higher when you focus on 8-11 year olds with over 74 percent of these primary school aged children having access to a tablet/ ipad and of these users 57 percent have downloaded a paid for app either on their own or with help on their tablet or smartphone

Online shopping

  • 84 percent of 8 to 15 year olds had bought items online, or had someone else buy something online for them
  • 58 percent of children bought something online or had something bought for them online for the first time before they turned 12
  • Around half had bought clothes (51 percent), with books (50 percent) and video games (49 percent) also popular. More than two in five had bought music (45 percent), with DVDs bought by more than 2 in 5 (44 percent)

Bank accounts and online banking

  • 64 percent of children get their first bank or building society account by the age of 11
  • Nearly a half (49 percent) had a bank/ building society account in their name before the age of 8 years old
  • More than a third of 8 to15 year olds with a bank or building society account (35 percent) have a card they can use at a cash machine and around half (49 percent) of children with a card use their card at least once a month
  • Around one in ten 8 to15 year olds with a bank/ building society account (11 percent) use online banking
  • 74 per cent of 15 year olds with a bank or building society account have a debit card
  • 72 per cent of 15 year olds never access online banking

Understanding of banking products

  • Just 23 percent of 8-15 year olds have heard of a current account and understood how it worked  and only 13 percent aware of overdrafts claim they understood them well
  • Nearly three quarters of 15 year olds with a bank account have a debit card but 72 percent of 15 year olds never use online banking
  • Nearly three quarters (72 percent) have heard of a saving account but only half of these (50 percent) understand how they would use one
  • More than a quarter (27 percent) of those aware of banking terms (i.e. current account, savings account, mortgages, overdrafts, debit card, credit card, cheque books) feel they do not understand any of them well
Notes to editors

1.     Financial Education in the National Curriculum:

  • The BBA and pfeg are calling for the Government to include financial education in the primary school curriculum and to include financial education in the subjects and skills that academies and free schools are required to teach.  Understanding personal finances is a vital like skill that should be seen as central to a rounded education
  • Primary Schools – There is currently no requirement for primary schools to teach financial education
  • Secondary Schools – Financial education is currently not included as a statutory requirement in the National Curriculum. Earlier this year the Department for Education announced its intention to include financial education within the new National Curriculum to be introduced in September 2014. This move followed a two-year campaign by MPs and Peers in the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Financial Education for Young People, pfeg and Martin Lewis from MoneySavingExpert.com. Under these proposals financial education would be included in the statutory programmes of study for citizenship education at key stages 3 & 4 (11 to 16 year olds).  However these statutory programmes of study would not apply to free schools or academies which make up over 52 percent of all secondary schools

2.     About the BBA

  • The BBA is the UK’s leading association for the banking and financial services sector, representing the interests of more than 240 member organisations with a worldwide presence in 180 countries. Our member banks make up the world’s largest international banking cluster, operating 150 million accounts for UK customers and contributing over £50 billion annually to UK economic growth
  • For more information please contact the BBA press office on 0207 216 8989

3.     About pfeg

  • pfeg (Personal Finance Education Group) is the UK’s leading financial education charity
  • pfeg provides free support, resources and expert consultancy to help schools plan and teach financial capability. Its mission is to ensure that all young people leaving school are equipped with the confidence, skills and knowledge they need in financial matters to take part fully in society
  • pfeg works with teachers, government, consumer bodies and financial industry representatives to assist schools in delivering personal finance education to the highest possible standards – making sure that children and young people are able to understand money and make informed choices which will guarantee them security and economic well-being in the long-term
  • pfeg was won a Charity Times Award in 2012 for it’s What Money Means partnership with HSBC and was named Educational Charity of the Year at the Charity Awards in June 2010
  • For more information see www.pfeg.org or contact Matt Hartley on 020 7330 9478 or 07730 141519 or email matt.hartley@pfeg.org

4.     All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 525 children aged 8 to 15. Fieldwork was undertaken between 31st August – 4th September 2013. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of this age group.