Press release:

Parents will spend over £3 billion on tech gadgets for their kids this Christmas

  • More than eight in ten parents (84%) will splash out £243 on electronic gifts for their kids this Christmas – almost a fifth (16%) will spend more than £400[1]
  • A quarter (26%) believe they spend too much money on gadgets for their children, but over a third (36%) say they’ll increase their spend next year[2]
  • The top five tech gifts for under 16’s this Christmas are: tablet (24%), video games (17%), smartphone (13%), digital camera (12%), e-reader (11%)3]
  • British families will watch over three hours of TV on Christmas Day[4] but a quarter (26%) will watch in different rooms or catch up online in order to avoid tensions[5]
  • While a quarter (25%) of families will play games together on consoles, more than half (52%) will still play board games and almost a third (31%) will play parlour games like charades[6]. 

With Christmas fast approaching, kids will be writing lists for Santa – and this year they will be filled with the latest must-have gadgets, according to new research from uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service. Collectively, parents will be splashing out over £3 billion on tech gifts for their kids, spending £243 each to fulfil their children’s Christmas wishes[1]. Nearly a fifth (16%) will go even further and shell out a staggering £400 or more on tech for their tots this year[1].

The Christmas splurge on gadgets comes despite the fact that seven in ten parents (70%) limit how long their children can spend using technology[7]. Furthermore, a quarter of parents (26%) actually believe they spend too much on gadgets for their children. But despite these concerns, over a third (36%) think they will spend even more next year.

Tablets top the charts for the most wanted present this year, being bought by one in four parents (24%) while video games remain popular with a fifth (17%) looking to buy one for their child. More than one in ten are considering a smartphone (13%). Digital cameras and E-reader’s make up the top five, while 6% of lucky children may receive a smartwatch. The least popular tech gift this Christmas is the basic mobile phone (5%) – as smartphones become more desirable and affordable.

And once the presents have all been opened, tech will remain on the menu with British families tuning in to over three hours of TV on Christmas day. But a harmonious Christmas may be unlikely for the quarter (25%) who argue over what to watch. Over a fifth of these telly tensions (23%) will be resolved by on-demand apps like iPlayer and 4OD, and a quarter (26%) will watch TV in different rooms – but one in ten (9%) are never resolved. And, with more than one in ten (12%) saying they will watch festive films or TV on a tablet or laptop this year, extra devices could help keep the peace.

Yet despite many homes facing a tech-fuelled Christmas day, traditional family fun will still play a major role. While a quarter of households (25%) will play family games on their games consoles, more than half (52%) will play board games and almost a third will play parlour games such as charades.

Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com, says: “Many families are preparing for a tech-tastic Christmas this year, with many kids demanding the latest gadgets whatever their age. For many this will mean that the pressure is on to juggle Christmas wish lists with household budgets.

“However, despite some tablets costing upwards of £350, the advent of many cheaper versions – from high street retailers Argos and Tesco, as well as Google’s bargain priced Nexus tablet – may be the solution for parents looking to keep both their kids and their bank managers happy.

“Any parent worried about keeping the cost of Christmas gifts down should make sure they get the best deal, and perhaps think outside of the big names. Many of the bargain priced smartphones and tablets are actually still relatively high spec. If they’re buying a mobile contract, they should keep an eye on the ongoing costs and consider placing a cap on bills or go for a PAYG deal that will enable them to easily track mobile spend.

“Some Christmas lists may seem unreasonable and make for expensive reading, but a little bit of savvy shopping could help parents enjoy a peaceful Christmas – as well as a debt-free New Year.”

— ends —

Notes to editors

Research carried out online with the uSwitch Consumer Opinion Panel amongst 1,748 respondents in November 2013.

  1. Of those who have children under 16, when asked “How much have you already spent this year/ plan to spend at Christmas on gadgets for your children in total?” the average amount parents plan to spend was £242.85. 7% said they’d spend between ‘£401-£500’; 4% said ‘£500-£750’; 3% said ‘£751-£1000’; 1% said ‘£1000-£1500’; 1% said ‘more than £1500’ meaning 16% will spend more than £400. Based on 35% of respondents having kids under 16 – 35% of 44.9 million UK adults (according to ONS figures) is 15,714,999. 84% of 15.7m is 13.2m. 13.2m x 242.85 = £3,205,765,467.
  2. Of those with children under 16, when asked “Thinking about how much you spend on gadgets for your children, which of the following statements do you most agree with?”11.2% said ‘I spend too much money on gadgets for my children, and will spend just as much next year’; 14.2% said ‘I spend too much money on gadgets for my children, but will try and cut back next year’; 36.4% said ‘I don’t spend a lot of money on gadgets for my children at the moment – but will probably spend more next year’.
  3. Of those with children under 16, when asked “Which of the following gadgets will you/ ay you be buying [your children] for Christmas?” 13% said ‘Smartphone’; 5% said ‘Mobile phone’; 24% said ‘Tablet (e.g. iPad)’; 9% said ‘Laptop’; 4%% said ‘Computer’; 11% said ‘E-Reader (e.g. Kindle)’; 7% said ‘MP3 player’; 10% said ‘Games console’; 5% said ‘Phone accessories’; 17% said Video games; 11% said ‘Games console accessories’; 6% said ‘Smartwatch’; 9% said ‘TV’; 12% said ‘Digital camera’.
  4. When asked “How much TV will your household watch on Christmas Day?” the average amount was 184 minutes
  5. When asked how arguments over TV are resolved 9.1% said ‘It never is!’; 23.3% said ‘We watch some programmes separately in different rooms’; 61.6% said ‘We record programmes to watch later’; 23.9% said ‘We catch up online (e.g. iPlayer)’
  6. When asked “Will you or the family spend time doing any of the following this Christmas?” 25.3% said ‘Playing family games on a games console; 51.5% said ‘Playing board games’; 31.3% said ‘Playing other family games (e.g. Charades).
  7. Of those with children under 16 when asked “Do you limit how many hours your child(ren) spend using technology?’
  8. When asked “Do you ever argue over what to watch on TV at Christmas?” 3% said ‘yes all or some of the time’; 21.8% said ‘Sometimes’.

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