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More than a third of children (35 per cent) own a mobile by the time they are that age, the charity Personal Finance Education Group (pfeg) discovered. Its survey also found that three-quarters of all children aged seven to 15 owned “at least” one mobile.

The charity’s survey highlighted how early children now become financially aware – with peer pressure forcing them to get to grips with money to afford mobile phone ringtones, call costs and computer games. It found that children as young as seven were offering to do chores in exchange for cash to buy ringtones. But researchers were also told that by the age of 10, children were shopping online using their parents’ debit or credit cards.

“Children today face a kind of ‘technological tipping point’ forcing them to develop financial awareness at an earlier age. “It is therefore, vital, that they are equipped with the skills and judgment to make sound decisions about money management from an early age.”

If I had kids…they would NEVER get a cell phone. But then I would be a horrible parent anyway, my kids would hate me.




  1. Cephus says:

    I’m surprised it’s that high. I know at my youngest daughter’s school, about 70% of her KINDERGARTEN class had cell phones and these are 5-6 year olds. At my oldest daughter’s school, probably 90% of the school has them.

  2. echeola says:

    What’s wrong with kids having a cell phone? As long as they don’t abuse them and are seen as a privilege…

  3. Mark Derail says:

    How about insufficient information to properly comment?

    Like the monthly associated cost?

    Like for a parent, being in touch is very important?

    In Europe / Asia, cell phone plans are most likely way cheaper, due to population density, and have “family plans” where all it costs to give your pre-teen a cell phone, is the actual cost of the phone itself.

    Zero if you give them your old phone, when you change yours.

    I have two very good phones, that I keep as spares, on the same (handicapped) Bell network. Just in case I lose one, a Bell service rep can easily switch to a previous serial #.

    As for your kids hating you John, it’s more of a generation gap thing. My two kids (17 / 19) will never own a landline.

    By the time I was 17, I had two landlines that I paid for out of my pocket. My BBS & personal phone.

    Among my peers, this was normal at the time.

  4. GregA says:

    I have a 7 year old, and he wants a phone. SO and I are talking about getting him one for his birthday. With family plans from various providers, extra phones don’t cost much at all. Its a great way to put a gps on him, so we can keep track of where he is. My live in niece is 9, she has a phone to call her dad so none of us have to talk to him.

    The kids will hate you while they are teenagers no matter what kind of parent you are, so just accept that it will happen and move on. You are a parent, not a friend.

  5. dusanmal says:

    Problem is same as with the Internet. Give such young child a phone that he/she can use without supervision and you increase chances of them doing something you definitely (and they likely) will regret. It is technologically cool to give your 7-8 yrs. old computer in his room or cell phone but it is also completely age inappropriate.
    Until at least some budding judgment capability in late teens – if they want to surf the Net’ or talk with someone it should be under supervision in the family room.

  6. chuck says:

    My 10-year old nieces (twins) got cell-phones for their last birthday. I think their parents did it so that someone in the house would know how they work.

  7. Dave W says:

    When they are old enough to pay the bill. Next question!

  8. billabong says:

    I would get my kid a cell as soon as they could use it in a responsible way.Kindergarten is about the right time.Of course it would be a tracfone because they are cheap and easy to control.John this is about communicating with your kids it is not a frivolous expense.

  9. billabong says:

    John I hate you to but in a good way.I just keep coming back for more.

  10. McCullough says:

    For the sake of accuracy, please note that McCullough, not JCD posted this piece.

  11. Sinn Fein says:

    They should only have “Phone Home” programmed phones…only, the clever little buggers would hack them and be able to call the world and get spam calls.

  12. Ben Waymark says:

    £10 ($20ish) will get you a pay-as-you phone, maybe add another £5 ($10ish) for credit and that is all is costs. Means you can phone them when it is time to come home for dinner… better that than having them stay at home playing video games every afternoon….

  13. Mark Derail says:

    #10 – Oh, so your name isn’t John McCullough?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_McCullough
    http://yorku.ca/finearts/faculty/profs/mccullough.htm
    http://mcculloughgroup.ca/STAFjohn.html

    [Please drop the WWW from URLs as WordPress doesn't display it properly... plus it's unnecessary. - ed.]

  14. Ron Larson says:

    Keep in mind that mobiles are billed outside the US differently. In the UK, the caller pays the charge (versus the US where the mobile phone holder pays for the call). So with that arrangement, you can call your kid on your account. And if there is no credit on the kid’s phone, they can’t call anyone or rack up charges.

    Combine that with family plans, the parents and kids could call each other cheap, or perhaps even free.

  15. billabong says:

    Well Excussse me.I hate McCullough also but in a good way.

  16. McCullough says:

    #15. Thank you, you may be excused.

  17. Mr. Fusion says:

    Cell phones to keep in touch with 10 y/o? WTF. Who lets their 10 y/o run around without knowing where they are going or with a responsible adult?

  18. ECA says:

    Lets see,
    7-15 and the Average, has to be that those 7-8 year old have the MOST??
    For this scale to be 1/2 accurate, those 13-15 HAVE NONE, which is VERY hard to believe.

  19. Luc says:

    Americans are anal about child supervision. When I was 10, I would ride my bike all over the city, my mother rarely ever knew where the hell I was. I would also take buses and go to anywhere I felt like. My favorite destination was downtown, I saw most of the movies that were ever on in my city when I was 10 and 11, including several adult ones (and I just really mean adult, not porn; America’s use of euphemisms is funny too).

    I loved that, I felt independent and grew up with plenty of awareness of individuality and the need to take care of myself. Molesters would approach me sometimes and I always knew how to brush them off. I knew a lot about sex, I knew who they were and what they were up to.

    I still see children being reared that way here in Brazil. If I had kids, yeah, I would give them total freedom. And a cell phone too, because it’s always good to have one in an emergency.

  20. Bill says:

    My 16 month old grandson grabs my iPhone and starts pushing icons… It’s quite amazing to watch.. he clearly understands how the picture scrolls work.. And at the iMac grabs the mouse and starts driving the cursor all over the screen and pressing the keys of the keyboard causing havoc!!! HA! I’m glad I have a time machine for backup.

    It is going to be interesting to see what happens next.