The mobile phone is penetrating deep into the vulnerable world of children, and now the EU is stirring itself to do something about it. The latest statistics show nearly a quarter of eight to nine-year-olds own a mobile, with three quarters of children owning one by the time they are 12.
Aside from the unknown and unproven risks from microwaves, mobiles are slashing into the age of innocence. Huge phone bills, harassment, and bullying are all associated with the must-have objects. It is time for a debate, says European Commission spokesman Martin Selmayr:
“The access to harmful content is becoming more and more easy, we see the phenomenon of bullying, that means the distribution of abusive or compromising messages and photos among children for purpose of blackmailing or threatening. It goes so far as even the beating up or the rape of class mates filmed on mobile phones and then distributing afterwards.”
The public debate is due to run until October, and is designed to get feedback from consumers, interest groups, and the phones industry. The Commission is hoping to avoid intervention if self-regulation of the market can be agreed.