British company OwnFone which has worked with Age UK to develop phones for the elderly, yesterday launched its latest range of mobile phones, this time for children. The 1stFone is aimed at children between the ages of 4 and fourteen, and offers a simple mobile phone with no internet access or messaging service.
With today’s society making parents more worried about their child’s safety, the device has been developed as a means of keeping mums and dads in touch with their children.
The 1stFone has been specially designed to withstand drops and bumps, and the screen-less device simply houses up to twelve emergency phone numbers; to make a call, simply press on one of the stored names on the phone's fascia.
However, OwnFone has come under fire from various critics who believe that the company is putting its own profit-making scheme above the welfare of children. “Marketing mobiles to pre-school children is wrong,” Siobhan Freegard, founder of Netmums.com said, “No four year old needs their own phone as they should never be left alone or in a situation where they need to ring an adult.”
Other observers have also aired their concerns about the device being offered to children at such a young age, suggesting that it is simply a ploy to hook people into techno-consumerism at an even younger age.
However, some campaigners for the phone have made it clear that parents are feeling the need to keep in contact with their children at all times of the day, and with the 1stFone not risking access to the potentially dangerous realms of the internet, agree that the device is a good idea.
The 1stFone is being marketed at £55 for the handset, with either a pay-as-you-go or monthly contract option between £7.50 and £10 per month; almost the same price as purchasing a mid-range smartphone. The device can be bought on a made to order basis in a variety of colours and designs, though, with growing criticism, it is difficult to ascertain how well the project will take off.
Do you think giving smartphones to children of 4 is too young? Or should we be getting our children into technology at an early age? Let us know; log in to post a comment below or get in touch via Facebook, Twitter or Google+.
Written by Charlotte Kertrestel