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The £300 hidden cost of first love

18th February 2013 Print

For all the latest mobile phone functions and apps that have teens glued to their handsets, the most likely cause of sending their phone bill skyrocketing isn’t social media or watching the latest One Direction video but simply having a teenage crush.

According to new research by Tesco Mobile ‘first love phone use’ could result in a monthly phone bill rise by as much as £304 in just a month for Britain’s parents as they attempt to manage household spend.

Over half of teens (55%) admit to more than doubling the number of texts or calls while 38% will at least double their normal data consumption to engage online with their new crush.

At the most extreme, almost one-in-ten lovestruck teens (9%) revealed they made at least ten times more phone calls than normal and 16% said their texting increased tenfold.

Social media usuage also rapidly increases when the love bug bites. Teens’ excessive tagging of photographs, updating relationship statuses, following their new boyfriend or girlfriend’s every move on Twitter and Facebook means 38% of teens ramp up additional data charges.

Almost one in three teens (31%) admit they have gone way over the limits set by their parents on a mobile phone bill due to getting a new girlfriend or boyfriend. That’s higher than other popular teen uses such as social media (27%), listening to music online (14%) or watching films or TV (11%).

In general the research revealed that most teens (78%) have previously exceeded limits set by their parents. In true teenage style half (51%) say they make up excuses for their usage that may attempt to win over mum and dad, with dedication to their studies coming top.

The top five teen excuses for high mobile phone bills:

1. Discussing / researching coursework (35%)
2. Lending a shoulder to cry on for a ‘heartbroken or troubled’ friend (21%)
3. Their brother or sister using their phone without their permission (11%)
4. “Pocket calling” (their phone keeps making calls or texts in their pocket) (10%)
5. Keeping in touch with grandparents (9%)

However, the research also reveals parents are savvy to their kids and cash aware, with almost 82% saying they know exactly what their children are spending. In times of tightened purse strings, almost 32% of these cash aware parents (CAPs) monitor their kids spending by setting up bills in their name.

They are even taking measures to cap their kids’ spending – with 36% of parents actively cutting down their children’s monthly expenditure.

Simon Groves, Chief Marketing Officer, Tesco Mobile comments: “Mobile phones have transformed the nature of how our kids communicate and keep in touch and no more so than when it comes to young love.

“We know parents worry about teens running up huge phone bills and that’s why we introduced the Capped tariff with a fixed monthly allowance to offer peace of mind. So if a teen does fall in love they can still keep in touch without any heartbreak for mum and dad when a bill comes in at the end of the month.”