Should You Buy Your Kid A Phone At Birth?
By Mike Masnick, Fri Jul 02 22:30:00 GMT 2004

The fastest growing segment of mobile phone users in the UK are in the "under 10-years-old" category, renewing the debate concerning how young is too young for a mobile phone.

Handset makers and mobile operators have been looking for ways to expand their market. There was a period of time when they were concerned that, due to market penetration, they might need to convince people that they needed multiple mobile phones ("a different phone for every occasion!"). Instead, it looks like they're finding a wide open new market in young children.

While they've been ignoring the elderly market, they have had no problem targeting kids. The question, though, has been just how young is too young for a mobile phone? Some have been accused of trying to target kids with "educational" programs that seemed mostly designed to make pre-teens identify with particular brands.

However, instead of just identifying with mobile phones, those kids (or, rather, their parents) seem to be buying mobile phones at increasingly early ages. Just a few months ago it was noted that the seven to ten-year-old demographic was buying a lot of phones and now the five to nine-year old demographic has been named the "fastest growing sector of mobile phone owners in the UK."

In every case, parents claim they're buying the phones for safety and security, in order to help keep track of their children in a dangerous world. While the kids seem to appreciate their parents reasoning (it gets them a phone, after all), nearly 60% claim they would "have fewer friends" if they didn't have a mobile phone. In fact, the study found that kids with phones were much more likely to stay in close contact with their other kid friends. There are, of course, other simpler means for parents who are interested in getting all the safety benefits, without necessarily getting their children a fully functional mobile phone so young. However, perhaps it's an inevitable trend and, as some have suggested, we'll be handing out mobile phones at birth.