As many as half of children between 5 and 9 years old own a mobile phone, according to a study by premium-rate regulator, PhonePay Plus.
The survey showed that the average age for children to get a mobile is 8 years, despite government guidelines warning that no child under 16 should own one for health reasons. For youngsters aged 7 to 15, the average number with a mobile rises to 75%.
Last year, the trend cost parents £374 million, with the average child’s bill at £10.50 a month.
“Given the dramatic rise in the number of children with mobile phones, it’s even more important for parents to understand how their children are using them,” said Paul Whiteing of PhonePay Plus. “Parents need peace of mind knowing their child is safe and the bills won’t give them a nasty surprise. You should spend time with your child explaining the basics about owning a mobile phone and paying for services such as ringtones or games.”
An Ofcom study in October last year found that 18% of children aged 5-7 use a mobile phone at home, with 11% actually owning their own phone. In the 8-11 age group, 63% use a mobile phone at home, with 54% have their own.