Get mobile savvy when it comes to kids [Liverpool Echo (England)]
(Liverpool Echo (England) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) IT'S a modern parenting dilemma - when do you give your child their 'rst mobile phone? Sooner rather than later, it would seem, as new research suggests more than half of children aged 10 or under have a mobile phone, and the majority (90%) of kids aged eight to 14 own one.
e study by comparison site broadbandchoices. co.uk found that 10 was the average age that children get their 'rst 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, use social media and messaging apps.
But while some parents may worry about the time children spend on their phones, the fact is that mobiles can serve a useful purpose for parents. A separate study by Netmums and the online mobile phone retailer e2save found that parents' main motivation for buying phones for their children was emergencies and safety, with around half of the phones bought for children aged between nine and 14 years purchased for this reason.
Communication and keeping tabs on their child's whereabouts were also important factors, accounting for 39% of motivations to buy a phone for nine to 11-year-olds.
"Most of the time parents are giving mobile phones to children because of safety and keeping in Touch," agrees Jeremy Todd, chief executive of the parenting charity Family Lives.
"Our main concern is if the phone is just being used as a paci'er, to keep children quiet."
While most parent." think their child only spends up to one hour per day on their mobile, almost a quarter of kids admitted to spending up to four or more hours per day using it.
And that can spell expense.
But there are ways for parents, and kids who are in charge of their phone bills, to prevent unpleasant surprise bills: Giving a child a .second-hand phone. If you have to buy one, avoid expensive handsets as they may make children a target for thieves.
If a handset has. internet access, ensure children are aware of the security, personal safety and bill shock dangers.
If buying a smart-.phone, choose one with built-in parental control software, or use parental control apps instead.
To avoid going over . the data allowance, most phones also have data limits which can be 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.
Giving a child a . prepay (PAYG) phone allows parents to limit what a child spends every month, and if the phone is stolen, thieves can't run up any bills past the existing credit balance.
Contract phone. deals come with smart handsets included and more generous text, minute and data allowances, but can cost more per month and can often lead to children unintention ally racking up excess bills. Only consider contract deals if your child has already shown they can budget responsibly.
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