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back to article British ankle-biters handed first mobe at the age of SEVEN - Ofcom

Children receiving their first mobile phone are, on average, just seven-and-a-half years old, claims the latest survey – although these figures contradict official stats from Ofcom. The new survey comes from mobilephonechecker.co.uk, which asked just over 1,000 parents the age of their kids when their hapless carers gave them a …

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Anonymous Coward

If I were to get a phone for my kid

and if I had a kid. It'd probably be a second hand one, one of my old phones since they still work fine and are still fairly good quality. Definately PAYG. I'd be very hesitant to give them one in junior school. If I did it wouldn't be until year 5 or 6, and then it'd be as a tester of "if you lose or break this phone, you're not getting a new one"

Basically I'd be aiming at 9-10 years old.

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Meh

Under the guise of safety

Many parents are under the misapprehension that giving a young child a phone is a matter of safety.

Instead they give phones to impressionable children with little maturity and risk exposing them to an unsupervised web experience at a too young age and unsupervised phone.

Safety can be a very abstract term.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If I were to get a phone for my kid

If you had a kid?

You obviously don't.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You obviously don't

Yes Sherlock, the use of the English conditional in his post is a give away isn't it. Well done :-)

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Re: If I were to get a phone for my kid

My 'phones all filter down to the kids as I upgrade the phones, although I gave each of the kids their first phone at whatever age they started spending significant non-school time out of the house, normally early-mid teens. First phone always low end, low value phones, often hand-me-downs on PAYG to give them a means of calling-home, never as a means of keeping tabs on them.

Currently my daughter is waiting for me to replace my Sony Xperia Neo so she can have it, and her Samsung Galaxy (one of the low end ones which was my first Android phone) will then go down to my youngest son, which will replace his Nokia clamshell. This will mean that everybody in the household except my wife will have smartphones, and she just doesn't want a mobile at all.

Eventually, the low end phones just end up sitting in a drawer as 'spares' (like my old Nokia 7110, now really only kept as a curio). The exception is my Palm Treo 650, which I am keeping as my active spare (with a PAYG SIM in it), because its not that desirable to anybody who was not a Palm user, and I like it too much.

The only real thing that bugs me is how soon service provider locked Android phones stop being updated by the service providers. My oldest son noticed this, and as a result always buys SIM-free phones (he's old enough to have his own money to spend) that get the updates direct from the phone manufacturer or Google, not waiting so see whether the service provider is prepared to package the updates. Maybe SPs should be forced to admit that they will never update old phones, and allow them to be un-branded so stock ROMs can be installed on the phones without hacking them.

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Re: You obviously don't

But he does say if he had a kid it would probably be a second hand one, so maybe he's actively considering adopting or fostering.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If I were to get a phone for my kid

While I might agree with you on principle, you underestimate the power of the force those abovementioned youngsters can apply. It's the drip drip v. rock rock. Our 6 year old is still far from breaking through our drip-resistant crust, but my feeling is, that very soon, the rate of drops falling is going to increase, sharply.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You obviously don't

Whether he's considering fostering or adopting, that doesn't change the fact that it is clear from the use of English that he, at this time of writing the post, hasn't. You think that in the intervening 2 hours he's got hold of one ...

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Re: You obviously don't

Quite possible if he's some type of Hollywood A-lister

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You obviously don't

That or I could just kidnap one from the local primary school

(this is a joke, I do not have any intention of kidnapping children. I am stating that this is a joke because quite frankly there are idiots out there who may report me to the police. Oh wait this isn't twitter or facebook so nevermind. Then again with some of the parents in the area I live, the kids might be better off if they were kidnapped... They really need to give out some kind of test to potential parents because really, some of the people around here are just... ugh!)

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Devil

Re: You obviously don't

If you want one, I'm sure you can get one on eBaby...

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Re: If I were to get a phone for my kid

I find this conversation amusing because we didn't have a fixed-line phone in our house until I was about 14!

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Re: If I were to get a phone for my kid

My 3 year old has been using her mom's Motorola Defy since she was 2. She's learned spelling, numbers and is now using language teaching software on it. Since she figured out how to get out of Toddler-lock, she doesn't throw it anymore either. (good thing the Defy is milspec, it has survived many nasty spills, some against the wall, waving her arm and letting go)

We don't need to start it for her either, she turns on the phone and finds what she wants herself, including playback of video or audio she likes.

Its definitely useful to her, but one has to be watching their kids if they get overly attached to that, or if they continue to spend most of their time in the real world, like they should.

We do control what's on that device. No games, no internet. We want her to play games outside and in the real world... So far, so good...

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Megaphone

work balance

Secondary school is a good time as they're often going out in an unsupervised capacity, sports clubs, friends houses, girls/boys, etc. Earlier than this, there's an unbelievable level of protection abounds kids that telecommunication isn't required; the little 'uns should know that they need to speak to an adult, not text their parents.

When they were of age, I bought the phone under the condition they pay for calls (etc) themselves. This meant they also had to earn some cash to get what they wanted, which is a good thing. Mostly (kids!).

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Anonymous Coward

7? Seriously? My how things have changed...

If I had kids I wouldn't give them a phone at all... They can wait until they can buy it themselves... I didn't get my first phone until I was 21... and it was a classic (Brick-ish) monochome low-res Nokia (5110 I think). The only game it had was "Snake".... And a camera? Hah... it was quite a few years later that I got my first (less than 1-megapixel) digital camera....

Back when I was 13 I got beat-up because we had a family computer... which automatically made me a super-nerd... defiantly not cool.

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Childcatcher

Bloody hell

When I were but a lad, I had fourpence in my pocket to stick in the slot. Push button A to connect, push button B to return coins in case of non-connect.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bloody hell

When I were a lad, and I wanted to make a call, I had to walk 10 miles to the nearest phone box, uphill both ways!

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Re: Bloody hell

Ah but back when you were a lad that fourpence would get you a call to india that'd last for at least half an hour before your funds ran out.

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Re: Bloody hell

>>fourpence would get you a call to india <<

But you'd have to wait three days for the operator to connect you!

My current landlady worked as a telephonist when 15-16; she regularly used to have to set-up calls to the company office in the USA; usually a 5-6 hour wait.

I can remember waiting nearly an hour for a trunk line to become free just to call an office in London from the Southern office. This from an old Bakelite handset that you needed both hands to lift off of the table, that had a little card in a slide on the bottom with the numbers for local exchanges to set-up calls.

Eeeeh; Kids today dunn't know they're born.

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Misleading Title

Well, I say misleading, when I mean just plain Wrong:

"...first mobe at the age of SEVEN - Ofcom"

"The new survey comes from mobilephonechecker.co.uk, ...with 7.5 years being the average."

"But when Ofcom put the question to 1,717 parents, as part of a more comprehensive study, it put the age of receiving one's first handset at about 10 years"

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Re: Misleading Title

Agreed.

I would also suggest Ofcom's survey will be of higher quality even leaving aside the sample size.

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Anonymous Coward

Mine aren't getting phones yet

But it doesn't stop them wanting to play games on mine. It's a real shame the Galaxy S3 doesn't play Angry Birds...

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WTF?

Re: Mine aren't getting phones yet

Are you trolling? Pretty sure the S3 plays Angry Birds.

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Re: Mine aren't getting phones yet

No, he's winding up his kids.

In my day it was being told that the ice cream van only played music when he'd run out of cones

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Happy

Re: Mine aren't getting phones yet

Or being shown the stout metal 'money-box' for your savings, on the wall in the cupboard under the stairs with the slowly rotating numbers on the front...

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There is an MVNO particularly targetted at younger kids: Bemilo. http://www.bemilo.com/ This pretty much gives parents sysadmin control on their kids phone usage.

There is a huge effect of playground tribalism. In my day it might have been a battle between who uses Schaefer or Parker pens, BBC Micro or C64, Amiga or ST. Today it's Android Vs iOS.

Having the latest release of Jellybean or whatever matters. Particularly in schools where you wear a uniform and it's harder to stand out.

When you change school at 11 you've gone from being the Big Kid with status to the smallest runt in a much bigger school. It's no wonder kids want S4s, iPhone 5s and the smart ones 925s.

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Facepalm

"There is a huge effect of playground tribalism. In my day it might have been a battle between who uses Schaefer or Parker pens"

Whaaaat? Did you go to St. Wankers School for Precocious Little Twats?

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Meh

I have all this to learn, as the father of a four-month old boy.

I was rather hoping that the fish/ponds/relative size thing could be solved by judo and boxing from age 4 or 5, in much the same way that working my arse off on a farm sorted it for me.

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Happy

@dogged

Nobody picked on you for having no arse?

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I recall it being more along the lines of whether you were in the 1st XV or not and therefore a target for some Chinese style reeducation. Whilst the exact nature of the tribalism varies you are correct, especially about the uniforms although kids do try even with the uniforms. I remember one kid attempted to wear a blazer, it didn't go well for him.

My sprogs haven't reached phone age yet, at least not owning although they do borrow phones \ tablets \ laptops for a variety of reasons (abcmouse \ netflix \ language studies etc) but they are supervised.

I like the idea of the child friendly mvno, I wonder how child proof it actually is? The buggers are pretty inventive. My almost 5 year old figured out how to unlock my tablet by holding it up to the sun at an angle so she could see the marks my fingers made when I unlocked it.

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@hplasm

Not twice!

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Smartphones by the age of 12? ...when I was that age (and if you were really lucky), your parents bought you a Nintendo Game & Watch to play with. And with that came a queue of 20 other kids following you around the playground every day begging for a mere minute of donkey kong action!

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Joke

20 other kids following you around the playground every day begging for a mere minute of donkey kong action!

You can get put in prison for that you know!

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Anonymous Coward

"You can get put in prison for that you know!"

Inappropriate for children? That has nothing on "Muffin the Mule"... :-O

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Fear? Paranoia? - just common sense

My kids got phones around 8 years old. They hardly ever used them but were very useful to me as I could find the kids easily when they go missing (busy rail stations, shopping, festivals, crowds of any sort).

Very much the same reason I put my name and phone number on the front of my notebook - so I can easily get it back again when I misplace it. Not fear or paranoia, just common sense.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fear? Paranoia? - just common sense

>I could find the kids easily when they go missing

I have a couple of kids and funnily enough like millions of other people in pre-mobile phone days I never lost them.

Now I can't get rid of them.

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Re: Fear? Paranoia? - just common sense

I do the same thing with my house keys.

stick my address to the keychain, now if my keys ever get lost people can just post them back to me.

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WTF?

Re: I do the same thing with my house keys.

now if my keys ever get lost people can just ransack my house.

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Re: I do the same thing with my house keys.

Obviously never watched fresh prince of bel air.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I do the same thing with my house keys.

Better idea is to put your name, but a relative or friend's address.

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Re: Fear? Paranoia? - just common sense

@ PeeDee 10:24

"the same reason I put my name and phone number on the front of my notebook - so I can easily get it back again when I misplace it."

So you're suggesting that you should put your name and address on the kids? That's counterproductive, when someone finds them in the deep, dark woods, they'll just send them back...

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Peer pressure

Personally seven years old is way too young. I'd love to be able to say I'd get mine to at lest double digits in age but of course once the eldest one has one the youngest will want one and that kinda defeats these age rules we are thinking of setting for the first one..... Also all it takes at school is one parent to buckle and give their child a mobile (at too young an age) and suddenly it's "But Fred/Bob/Bill has one..... Why can't I....?!?!??!"

If your seven year old 'needs' their own mobile to contact you then that means you aren't sure where they are most of the time.... Kinda worrying.

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Anonymous Coward

so far

My eight year old has not expressed any interest in a phone. And i like it that way.

if he needs to be contact with someone then the adult in loco parentis at the time can deal with it.

if wants to phone a friend or relative there is a land line or he can borrow my mobile and go somewhere private.

that he has a tablet with a bigger screen than a mobile to play games on may well help.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: so far

I didn't get my firs tmobile until I was 15, and then it wasn't a new mobile, it was my sisters old mobile.

Before that if I ever went on school trips etc, my mum would give me an old hosue brick from the drawer to stick in my backpack. When kids questioned me about it (since a few of them had 'modern' phones at the time) I just said the thing was damn near indestructible, lasted nearly a month on charge, and could be used to bludgeon them if they ask any more questions.

Actually that's an idea, rather than get your kid a new phone, get them one of those old housebrick phones. Retro is cool these days right?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: so far

>could be used to bludgeon them if they ask any more questions

Reminds me of my first mobile a Nokia brick. The salesman was trying to sell me insurance, these things cost a fair bit back then and was going through what was covered. I interrupted and asked if it covered malicious damage. He looked puuzled so I explained, "for instance if I threw it at someone". "Yes, covered", he started before realising, just maybe, that he shouldn't continue any further.

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Boffin

Lay down the conditions in advance

My 9 year old bugged us to get her a mobe, so we said you can have one if...

1. You spend your own money buying it

2. WE get to dictate the carrier and the contract details so we can enforce the security aspects.

And the killer requirement....

At any time Mum has full unconditional access to the phone without any reason needed to look at anything on it! It still causes arguments occasionally when a spot-check is done but the threat of the loss of the phone is pretty good deterrent against stupid arguments and sulking.

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Mushroom

Phones don't talk to me about phones

I bought my daughter a phone for her 7th birthday so I could keep in touch with her. Seemed like a good plan, my ex-wife was complaining about how I should keep in touch with my daughter. Nothing fancy, just a nice simple pink girly phone she could text and call me and the rest of her relatives she doesn't get to see since the divorce. But my ex deemed it "age unsuitable" and confiscated it. Then to *really* take the piss she gave it back to her when I took her away on holiday at half term so she could stay in touch with her and then re-confiscated it after the holiday.

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Re: Phones don't talk to me about phones

I think the problem here may be in your choice of incubator.

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Vested interest yawn

Heard this story on radio 5 this morning. Only in the last 2 seconds of the feature did they mention the survey was compiled by a vendor.

"Surveys" by those in the biz are not surveys at all, they are just a bit of fun advertising, and should not be featured as a news story. Sorry about the grumpiness

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Kids these days are born into a world of technology. Gadgets like smartphones aren't something new to them, they're just how the word is. Mine's been using my iPhone for educational apps and games since he was a baby. At around 18 months he could swipe to unlock the phone, swipe to the second page of apps, open the folder of toddler apps and launch the app he wanted. That caused some strange looks on the train, I can tell you!

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