Keep in touch with young generation's mobile use [Gloucestershire Echo (England)]
(Gloucestershire Echo (England) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) On average, children get their first mobile phone at the age of 10. LISA SALMON asks the experts how parents can safeguard against big bills IT is a modern parenting dilemma - when do you give your child their first mobile phone? Sooner rather than later, it would seem, as new research suggests more than half of children aged 10 or under (52 per cent) have a mobile phone, and the majority (90 per cent) of children aged eight to 14 own one.
The study by comparison site broadbandchoices.co.uk found that 10 was the average age that children get their first phone.
And whatever the age of the mobile-owning child, almost half expect to spend more than twice as long on their phone over the summer school holidays, using it for an extra two or more hours per day to call and text, play games and use social media.
"Most of the time parents are giving mobile phones to children because of safety and keeping in touch," says Jeremy Todd, chief executive of the parenting charity Family Lives.
"Our main concern is if the phone is just being used as a pacifier, to keep children quiet."
While most parents (45 per cent) think their child only spends up to one hour per day on their mobile, almost a quarter of children admitted to spending up to four or more hours per day using it.
Five per cent admit using their mobile phone to shop online and make app purchases, often without their parents' know-ledge. That's in addition to the Pounds 30-plus a month that one in 10 children are spending on their mobiles, with one in seven overspending by Pounds 20 or more in some months. Despite this, more than half of the children surveyed had some responsibility for their own phone bill, usually as an allowance. Indeed, some parents even give them phones as away of teaching financial responsibility.
Dominic Baliszewski, at broad-bandchoices.co.uk, said: "Costs can easily add up quickly on a mobile phone, particularly with data usage, which we found to be the biggest single contributor to bill shocks."
He suggests: ? Giving a child a secondhand phone. If you have to buy one, avoid expensive handsets as they may make children a target for thieves as well as being expensive to replace.
? If a handset has internet access, ensure children are aware of the security, personal safety and bill shock dangers.
? If buying a smartphone, choose one with built-in parental control software, or use parental control apps instead.
? Most phones have data limits, found in the settings menu.
? When taking phones abroad on holiday, data roaming costs can be high, so either leave your child's phone at home, or make sure data roaming is turned off and limit calls and texts.
? Giving a child a prepay phone allows parents to limit what their child spends every month, and if the phone is stolen, thieves can't run up any bills past the existing credit balance. Call and text charges tend to be higher.
? Contract phone deals come with smart handsets included and more generous text, minute and data allowances, but can cost more per month.
? Capped contracts can come with a handset included and offer the power to cap a child's monthly spend - but ensure the networks who offer them have network coverage in your area.
"Our main concern is if the phone is just being used as a pacifier, to keep children quiet." JEREMY TODD OF FAMILY LIVES
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