Research conducted by insurance company Aviva found that parents are spending more money than ever before on smartphones and tablets for their teenagers despite concern these gadgets expose them to harmful influences.
Birthdays and special occasions are among the most expensive times for families, costing £410 per teen per year on average, while spending on clothes and shoes comes in at £364.
Alistair McQueen, Aviva’s savings and retirements manager, said: “There is a certain amount of pressure coming down on parents from advertising and pressure from their teenage children. ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ is certainly a driver behind the figures.”
Parents in Yorkshire and the Humber are spending close to the same amount to support their children between the ages of 13 and 19 (£24,416), as the average worker earns in a year (£25,293). Nationally, parents are spending £28,000 on raising a teenager, with the highest spending in London.
Aviva’s research, based on the Office for National Statistics’ Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, found that 57 per cent of parents in the region buy technology for their teenagers, despite having reservations about possible online threats.
The most common expenses are for mobile phone contracts, handsets and laptops which costs on average £188 per year. However this is 16 per cent less than the national average of £225 a year.
Mr McQueen said: “Technology is a huge expenditure. There seems to be a split where half of parents think technology is a benefit but the other half are fearful that it exposes their child to negative influences to such an extent that parental worry outweighs the concerns that they have about exposure to drink and drugs.”
To meet the demands of their teens, over a third of parents in Yorkshire and the Humber have also said they sacrifice going out or socialising (34 per cent) or saving money for their future (30 per cent), including putting money into their own savings and pensions.
Teenagers’ inflated view of parental earnings is also a problem, with many young people having no concept of family incomes. Mr McQueen said: “The financial pressures facing young adults today are greater than they have ever been. Getting on the housing ladder, carrying student debt.
“However it is positive that the survey showed they understand the need to save for the future and think long term. There is evidence that education is improving in the younger generation given the pressures that they are under and if parents can guide them then that’s all the better.”
Yet teenage spending is only part of the story, as the research found parents need £15,406 per child between the ages of 20 and 25 when graduates often ‘boomerang’ back into the family home before finding their feet financially.