SINGAPORE: Nearly all (98%) parents in Southeast Asia allow their young children to use mobile devices despite having concerns about billing charges, inappropriate content and other worries, recent research has shown.

According to, a Singapore-based parental portal, most parents in the region are concerned about the potential negative effect of mobile devices, despite their perceived usefulness for furthering education and constructive play.

Based on responses from 2,714 parents of children aged three to eight-years-old in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, the study found they are most concerned about the impact on their children's health (92%).

Other worries include the risk of children becoming addicted to devices (90%) and exposure to inappropriate content (88%), Digital News Asia reported.

They are also concerned about receiving costly bills run up by their children making in-app purchases (67%) and the devices getting damaged (60%).

However, this is partly offset by four in five (80%) parents believing that device usage helps to further the education of their offspring, while more than two-thirds (68%) think they're useful for providing early exposure to technology.

Interestingly, 57% are content for devices to be used for entertainment and a full 55% admit to allowing their use just to keep their children quiet or busy.

"Parents are very aware of both the benefits and risks of device use by their kids," the report said. "What will put their minds at ease is if devices can have parental control features and they are used by their kids mostly for educational purposes."

That, however, might be a bit optimistic as the research also revealed the differences between parental expectations of device usage and how they are actually used.

Although 29% of parents are content for entertainment apps to be downloaded, the overwhelming majority want book apps (85%) and educational apps (81%).

Perhaps not surprisingly, young kids instead download games (72%) and videos (60%), although 57% do download educational apps. Just 4% download book apps.

Elsewhere, the study found that 41% of children spend more than one hour per sitting on a device. Also, nearly all (99%) parents allow their children to use devices at home, compared with 40% who allow them to use them at a friend's house and 17% at school.

Data sourced from, Digital News Asia; additional content by Warc staff