Friday, October 02, 2009

The Mobile Aimed at Four-year-olds

By Laura Clark
Daily Mail Online
United Kingdom

A mobile phone designed for children as young as four is to be sold in Britain. The brightly coloured Firefly handset has just five buttons - including two which call Mum and Dad directly. Details of the phone, which looks like a toy, came as it emerged that more than half of under-tens now own a mobile.

There were warnings yesterday that the trend for such gadgets was 'eroding childhood' and concerns have been raised over the effect of phone radiation on children's health. More than 7,000 of the £85 Firefly handsets have already been sold in Ireland. The Dublin-based firm behind the invention is now planning a UK launch towards the end of the year.

But Margaret Morrissey, of the lobby group Parents Outloud, said: 'We are continually eroding childhood and making children miniature adults. 'The excuse will be that it is for the sake of safety, but in fact it's for the sake of the mobile phone company's bank balance.'

The warning came as figures from MobileYouth, a research consultancy which tracks technology use by youngsters, found that 52 per cent of UK children aged five to nine have a mobile. Among ten to 14-year-olds, usage is running at almost 85 per cent.

Aine Lynch, chief executive of Ireland's National Parents Council, said: 'Targeting a phone at a four-year-old causes us concern. It gives rise to questions as to where parental responsibility is going. 'Why would kids need to be contacted by mobile phone? Why are they not in the care of their parents, teachers or supervisors?'

Official Government advice to parents remains that they should avoid giving mobiles to under-16s as a precaution.

See: On sale soon: The mobile aimed at four-year-olds

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