Most Britons oppose children having mobile phones, poll finds

A woman uses her mobile telephone in central London January 23, 2011. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

(Reuters) - Nearly three-quarters of Britons think it is inappropriate for children under 12 to own a mobile phone, despite the fact that most kids already have them, according to a poll on Thursday.

The survey of 2,000 people found that expensive bills, unmonitored internet use and lack of parental control were some of the reasons adults felt uncomfortable about kids owning mobiles.

However, more than one in 10 would buy a child a mobile phone as a treat to encourage good behavior, or for doing well at school.

The vast majority of parents (90 percent) also liked the idea of a child having a phone in case of an emergency.

Mobile phone information and price comparison website, which carried out the survey, noted that 79 percent of 7 to 11-year-olds already own a mobile.

Hannah Bouckley, editor of Recombu, said: “It is reassuring for parents to be in constant contact with their children, but there are clearly concerns about just how careful a young child will be with their own mobile phone.

“It is important for parents to sit down with their kids to discuss the responsibilities that come with the phone and set clear limits for its usage from the outset.”

Reporting by Li-mei Hoang, editing by Paul Casciato