Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Mobile phones additional costs for parents

Mobile phones are increasingly pervasive in Europe with 80% of households having at least one handset. Many parents now purchase mobile phones for their children, often for reasons of safety and peace of mind. However, mobile phones pose a number of dangers, which parents may be unaware of. 3G telephones with advanced capabilities offer services much like the Internet, which bring with them many new risks. Nonetheless they are an excellent tool for children to keep in touch with their peers, either by talking or via texting (SMS). They are also increasingly used for playing games, and as alarm clocks, personal organisers and cameras.

Children are often "early adopters" of mobile phone services, and many have purchased ring tones, animations, games and images to customise their phones. In the future, we can expect mobile phone services to increasingly converge with other devices, with phones therefore becoming personal digital assistants. In Japan, they are even used as digital wallets for payment. As the services diversify, both risks and opportunities will increase.

Safety Issues

Contact: some children have been sexually harassed by mobile phone, and bullying using mobile phones is common. Children are often reluctant to discuss such problems.

Theft: expensive mobile handsets are often stolen, and children may be mugged or physically attacked for their handsets.

Spam: Most children with mobile phones have received some form of SMS spam. Some of these services are charged at a premium rate and may be difficult to stop.

Photographs: many mobile phones now include cameras. They are often taken without permission and forwarded to friends or websites.

Supervision: children normally use mobile phones alone, so parents are not involved in their use.
Advertising and sales pressure: children may receive advertising content via SMS, and some services for children allow them to pay for goods using their phone credit.

Health issues: evidence is inconclusive, but some people fear that prolonged use of mobile phone may give rise to health concerns.


50% of children with mobile phones in Spain send an SMS every day 82% of young people in Belgium own a mobile phone. In NLand FR In Sweden, 97% of the pupils have their own phone and 80% of them use it daily39% of children in Finland use camera phones regularly80% of households in the EU member states have at least one mobile phone When asked in a survey 60% of young people aged 18 and under would forward photos of violence towards classmates via mobile phones


Insafe articles:

Rating system introduced for Dutch mobile content Danish parents prepare children for harmful content Handywissen.at for safe mobile phone use in Austria Committee of Ministers adopts first ever international declaration to boost human rights and the rule of law in the Information Society Hacking and malware go mobileAustralian government reviews mobile communication safety Children and young people's use of moblogs

Other sources: eMapps: The use of ICT, games and mobile technology in the New Member States


Austrian node: Website with information and recommendations for safe mobile phone use for parents and teachers Austrian node: brochure for parents Austrian node: tips for children Greek node: Advice on safe use of mobile phones Slovenian node: Tips and recommendations for parents about safer internet and mobile phone use Swedish node: Tips on mobile phone use for adults, children and young peopleUK node: Website with advice for children on mobiles Childnet international: KnowITall for parents, advice on computers and mobile phones O2 and Childnet: Website with broad range of advice on protecting children from risks Childnet international: Children and mobile phones: an agenda for action Nokia: Protect your phone

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