1stFone mobile phone aimed at four year olds sparks controversy

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1stfone-top.jpgA new mobile phone aimed specifically at children four years old and up has launched, sparking controversy among childcare experts.

Called the 1stFone, it’s been developed by OwnFone and only allows children the ability to call a preset series of numbers (such as “Mum and Dad” or “Home”), with no access to the internet of text messaging capabilities.

Costing £55 on Pay As You Go and also available on contract deals, OwnFone see the handset as another way to ensure the safety of children, helping them stay contactable should they become lost without exposing them to the potential seedy dangers of the internet.

“It’s up to the parent at what age they feel their child needs to be contactable, we just want to ensure when that time comes, there’s a product that minimises usage and poses no threat or danger to their safety.” said Thomas Sunderland, founder of OwnFone.

OwnFone are no strangers to making handsets aimed at less tech-savvy demographics, having made a handset designed for the elderly alongside Age UK.

However, many have been quick to chide the chastise OwnFone, seeing it as a cynical move to draw more money from children and introduce them to adult concepts too soon.

“The marketing of technology to very young children is just a hook to get them into techno-consumerism,” said Sue Palmer, author of Toxic Childhood and a former teacher, speaking to the Telegraph.

“It’s a very tricky one. I would love to see a phone marketed for children under the age of 14 with no access to the internet. But four years old is extremely young. The point is it’s once they are going out on their own.The point is to look at what’s sensible, healthy and reasonable for children.”

What do you think? Is it a good idea to let such young children have mobile phones, or, as Palmer sees it, an attempt to get their consumerist passions boiling at an early age? Let us know in the comments section below.

Gerald Lynch