Surprise! T-Mobile Study Finds Mobile Tech Helping Families Stay Close & Connected

May 08, 2017

With the approach of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, new survey results from ORC and T-Mobile reveal parents and kids are using their smartphones to stay connected and strengthen family relationships

Bellevue, Washington — May 9, 2017 — Leave it to the Un-carrier to flip the script on phones and families. T-Mobile (NASDAQ: TMUS) today released results of a new ORC Caravan study that call into question much of what we thought we knew about the relationship between smartphone screen time and family time. The results paint a picture, not of families drifting apart, but of families coming together because of new tech. So much so, that a large majority of parents—nearly 70%—say smartphones and mobile tech make it easier to communicate with their kids, whether by text, call, email or the full spectrum of social media platforms.

“You know this dad loves his smartphone! And my very favorite things are all the selfies, crazy group texts, all the DMs, Facetimes and Snapchat stories with my daughters,” said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile. “And now we know most moms and dads feel the same way. Mobile is how families today stay connected!”

Group Texts and Snapchat …The New Ways Families Stay in Touch

T-Mobile’s study showed that families today are using a full range of mobile technologies and media to stay in touch. For example, nearly half of all parents and kids surveyed (48%) say they enjoy communicating as a family through group texts. Among all social media, Facebook is the platform families use most often, with more than half of parents (54%) saying they use it to stay in touch with their kids. And, more surprisingly, nearly 1 in 4 (23%) parents Snap and use Instagram (22%) with their kids, too

Another key finding of the study is that mobile tech isn’t just increasing the frequency that family members connect. It’s often improving the quality of our communications, too. In what may be a surprise to many, a lot of families say that mobile tech helps parents and kids share their feelings with one another more honestly. In fact, a third of parents (33%) said that their children are communicating their feelings to them more openly more often with their smartphones. Sometimes a note (or text) does the job best.

Allllll the Ways We’re Celebrating Mom and Dad

Americans are celebrating Mother’s Day next week and Father’s Day in June by marking the occasion in numerous ways—and smartphones are playing a key role. In the study, 6 in 10 (60%) celebrate the day in-person. However, whether or not a visit is possible, we’re also recognizing our parents in a variety of other ways. Close to half (45%) of kids still call their parents. About a third (30%) text message Mom and Dad. Another 10% of kids video chat with their ‘rents. And, many also go for a social showing of affection. About 20% of kids post their Mother’s/Father’s Day acknowledgements on Facebook, 5% on Instagram and just under 5% on Snapchat.

And, there are some things that never go out of style. Nearly 30% of parents say they also receive cards and nearly 25% are also getting flowers from their children. Nice work, kids!

Moms & Dads Love Their Smartphones More Than You’d Think

Another surprise from the study is that—contrary to conventional wisdom—kids and parents go toe-to-toe in hogging their share of the data when forced to share data on the carriers’ shared data plans. Almost 70% of families report having a data hog in the household. And, despite what you might think, parents and kids both hog their share of data. While kids account for 51%, nearly 40% of data hogs turn out to be the parents, and 9% blamed “others” (i.e. anyone on the plan that isn’t a parent or child—looking at you, aunts, uncles, cousins).

Of course, it should come as no surprise that moms and dads love their smartphones and put them to good use. Beyond the texts and Snaps, nearly one third (28%) of dads keep track of the kids’ whereabouts through their smartphones. That compares to 20% of moms.

You can also credit smartphones for your family photo albums. Nearly 70% of parents say that—thanks to their smartphone—they capture more memories with their children. And, of course, our smartphones are great for jogging the memory. About 1 in 10 parents (13%) admit to forgetting about a child's upcoming birthday until they get a digital reminder. No Sixteen Candles moments here!

In fact, mobile tech now plays such a key role in keeping families connected that parents surveyed say they’d sacrifice a LOT before giving up this means of communicating with their kids. When asked what they’d sacrifice (for a full month!) rather than lose all mobile communications with their children, parents made some surprising choices:

  • 41% said they’d give up alcohol
  • A full 40% would give up retail shopping
  • 2 in 5 would give up dessert (37%)—even chocolate (37%)
  • Nearly one quarter (23%) would give up sex
  • 1 in 5 (20%) would give up internet access
  • 1 in 10 would actually give up their house (11%) and/or their car (12%)

Families Love Their Smartphones, but are Frustrated by Taxes, Fees and Overages – and Don’t Have to Be

Finally, while mobile tech has become critical to staying connected, it isn’t all wine and roses, especially for carrier customers. Nearly 25% of those surveyed said they’ve called their carrier about confusing taxes and fees. And, nearly10% admitted that they’ve brought to tears by shock overages in their monthly bill! Yikes! Both are things Un-carrier customers don’t have to worry about. With T-Mobile ONE, everything is unlimited and monthly taxes and fees are included!

For more about T-Mobile ONE, visit:

The T-Mobile study polled 1,014 individuals online via ORC’s Caravan omnibus survey. The margin of error is +/-3 percentage points. ORC International is a top 20 global business intelligence firm that helps today’s leading organizations better understand their employees, customers and markets and transform their business performance. With its CARAVAN® Omnibus solutions, organizations can quickly and reliably add critical insight to their next pitch, press release or campaign. More information on CARAVAN can be found here.

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About T-Mobile US, Inc.
As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc. (NASDAQ: TMUS) is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. Our advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 72.6 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on quality and value. Based in Bellevue, Washington, T-Mobile US provides services through its subsidiaries and operates its flagship brands, T-Mobile and MetroPCS. For more information, please visit
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