Parents choose to buy mobiles for their children for added safety and security

The overwhelming reason why parents buy mobile phones for their children is for safety and security reasons, the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) said today in response to claims made by an Australia Institute study.

AMTA’s Chief Executive Officer, Chris Althaus, rejected Australia Institute claims that the mobile phone industry was increasingly targeting children.

“The overwhelming evidence is that parents choose to buy mobile phones for their children for safety and security reasons,” he said.

An Australian Psychological Society study, which is quoted in the Australia Institute’s study, found the main reason highlighted by both parents and adolescents for getting a mobile phone was for contact with parents and safety.

“The mobile phone industry rejects claims by the Institute that it is ‘commercialising childhood’. Children do not buy mobile phones, their parents do. They provide families with the opportunity to stay in touch if there is a pressing or urgent need for parents and children to contact each other,” Mr Althaus said.

This view was highlighted in recent research by the UK Trust for the Study of Adolescence (TSA), which aimed to enable better understanding of the role of mobile phones in family life.

The study looked at how mobiles are used as a means of communication with parents, particularly as regards safety. It found that young people felt they could do more and felt safer having their mobile phone and they eased communication within families, and allayed worry on the part of the parents.

Mr Althaus rejected the Australia Institute’s claims that the use of mobile phones by young people was leading to widespread financial difficulties and youth indebtedness.

The Australian Psychological Society study several years ago found that eight out of 10 young people made few calls and sent few text messages.

Nevertheless, the mobile phone industry takes the issues of excessive use very seriously and has introduced a range of practical measures to assist in promoting the safe and responsible use of mobile phones.

Mr Althaus said: “The industry spends a lot of time and resources to assist all users – particularly young people – to have access to all the benefits that mobile phones have to offer in a financially responsible way. The industry is concerned about any youth debt and, although we believe the number of people affected is relatively small, the industry has responded with the introduction of competitive pre-paid services to ensure that young people have access to the benefits of mobile phones at a price that suits their budget. AMTA urges parents to consider getting their children pre-paids to ensure that they do not get into debt.

“There is also a wide range of bill management tools, such as on-line bill checking and spend alerts, to assist people control their spending. Also, capped deals are an easy and convenient way to keep bills within budget.”

For more information contact Randal Markey, AMTA, (02)6239 6555 or 0421 240 550