Gen Z phone home: 41% of parents wish their kids would phone home more frequently from university

Wednesday 22 September 2021
  • Empty Nesters: New research from Sky Mobile reveals almost half of parents (47%) are starting to fret about the prospect of having an empty nest
  • Call Frequency: Majority of parents (94%) want calls at least weekly
  • Checking-in: Being too busy with coursework (46%) and not having any updates (23%) amongst the top excuses for students not contacting home
  • Roll over data: Sky Mobile makes it easier for families to stay connected, with customers able to roll their spare data each month and share it with others

New research from Sky Mobile, voted Best Pay Monthly and Best Value Pay Monthly network by Uswitch, has revealed with students going back to university this September, almost half (47%) of British parents are starting to fret about having an empty nest with 41% admitting that they would like their kids to contact home more frequently.

The study of 2,000 British parents and students found that most parents (94%) are not quite ready for the months of peace and quiet ahead, with parents expecting daily calls from their kids (32%), weekly check-ins (31%) or contact at least three-five times a week (21%).

Sky Mobile has teamed up with actress and presenter, Sheree Murphy, whose daughter, Ruby is off to university this month to share some of her own anecdotes of having an empty nest.

Sheree Murphy, actress and presenter, said, “I’ve always known this moment was coming, but nothing could have prepared me for Ruby heading off to university. As a parent, it’s a rollercoaster of emotions. I’m so excited for her and her new adventures, but I’m definitely one of those parents who expects regular video call and thanks to Sky Mobile, Ruby has no excuse as I’ll be sharing my data with her for whenever she runs out!”

Touching base

When it comes to some of the reasons why students plan to contact home, keeping in touch with family (66%), having a general catch-up (65%) or getting life advice (31%) come up top. Whilst almost a quarter (24%) will call home to check on the family pet and nearly one-in-five to ask for money (17%).

And, if parents are wondering why their children aren’t getting in touch more, being too busy with coursework (46%), not having any news to share (23%) and socialising with friends (22%) are amongst the top excuses for children not checking-in.

Delving deeper, the research reveals that most students plan to call their parents (62%), video call (46%) or chat to them via social messaging apps (46%) but almost one in five students say they can’t keep in touch as they’re low on data or minutes (16%) - with this figure rising to just under one in four (23%) for first year students needing a boost in mobile data or minutes.

Top reasons for contacting home

Top excuses for not contacting home

To check-in on family – 66%

Too busy with coursework – 46%

To have a general catch-up – 65%

Being stressed and don’t want to worry parents with problems – 26%

To get life advice – 31%

Don’t have any updates – 23%

Being homesick – 28%

Too busy socialising – 22%

For mental health support – 27%

Forgetting – 17%

Contacting tactics

Some of the ways parents plan to hear from their kids more often include organising a visit (31%), inviting them to family events (28%) and sending them a present to let them know they’re being thought of (26%). With almost one in ten also planning to send guilt inducing messages to encourage their children to phone home more. Even with these tactics, it’s surprising to see that only one fifth (20%) will follow their children on social media.

But not all parents are disheartened over their nests being empty, nearly two-fifths (39%) plan on using their spare time to go on holiday or take up a hobby (35%) and just over a third are excited at the prospect of buying less food (34%).

Paul Sweeney, Managing Director of Sky Mobile said:

“It's an exciting time for new and returning students but contacting home may not always be top priority. With Sky Mobile, it’s easy for parents to roll their spare data and share it with their kids for an extra data boost, helping families to stay connected.”

Unlike other network providers, Sky Mobile lets you keep all their data for up to three years. Every month any spare data rolls into your Piggybank ready for you to use later or share with family. Spare data can be shared with up to 7 SIMs on the account or can be exchanged for rewards, like accessories or money off a new phone.

For more details on Sky Mobile visit

Note to editors:

Research conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Sky Mobile. Total sample size was 2,000 18+ UK respondents of parents and students. Survey conducted online between Wednesday 8th - Monday 12th September 2021.

Sky Mobile benefits at a glance:

  • Roll – Every month your spare data rolls into your Sky Piggybank ready for you to use later or to share with your family
  • Watch – Unlimited streaming of Sky apps so you can enjoy live sports, the best shows and kids’ favourites without using your data
  • Text to Switch – Simply text PAC to 65075 to get your switching code. We’ll take care of the rest
  • Swap – Upgrade to a shiny new phone anytime you like and save money when you swap your old one
  • Mix – Change data plans whenever you like
  • Piggybank – Share spare data in your Sky Piggybank with up to seven SIMs on your account or exchange it for rewards

For more details on Sky Mobile visit

For further information, please contact the Red Sky Mobile team via or the Sky Mobile team directly via: /

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