Mobiles destroying childhood
Februrary 19, 2007
WHILE the average parent usually buys their child a
mobile telephone with security in mind, researchers at
the Australia Institute have condemned the marketing of
mobiles to children as promoting consumerism and
Researchers Christian Downie and Kate Glazebrook say in
their paper, titled Mobile phones and the consumer kids,
that one in four children aged between six and 13 have a
"The pressure felt by children to consume threatens to
commercialise their childhood, with deleterious effects
for their development," Mr Downie said yesterday.
"Mobile phones are another example of the pressures
being put on young children to consume and to compete
with their peers for expensive consumer goods from a
young age. It's an ethos that is not only harmful to
childhood, but in the case of mobile phones, very
Mr Downie said children were motivated by aesthetics and
"The larger concern is that targeted advertising to
children means they are constructing their identity
through the purchase of objects," he said.
The institute is being sued by David Jones for a report
that accused the store of eroticising and sexually
exploiting children in advertising.
While the institute's report on mobile phones may be
less controversial, it will be hard-pressed to find a
teenager who agrees with it.
Darcy Mason, 13, has had a mobile for the past two
"I just wanted a phone, it wasn't pressure, I don't
think there is anyone at my school who doesn't have
one," she said.
"I don't feel safe without my phone."
Her friend Alex Warnes-Wagstaff, 13, has also had a
phone for two years.
"I felt a bit of pressure to begin with. I wanted to
keep up with the latest trends, but now everyone has
them and it's no big deal."
Darcy's mother. Fiona McGill, said that above everything
she wanted her daughter to have a phone for safety
reasons. She said the mobiles had been a godsend that
"From a working mother's point of view, a mobile phone
can ease the domestic burden," she said. "I am in the
office, this kid is coming from this school, the other
kid is coming from that school, it helps to know where
they are at any given time."
Alex's mother Ros Wagstaff said that while her daughter
loved being able to text friends, for her, "it is
basically for safety and a way we can keep in touch with
A spokeswoman for Nokia Australia, Louise Ingram, said
they did not market directly to children, and to her
knowledge no other manufacturer did. She said children
had to be over 18 to have a contract and be able to pass
a credit check..
"Parents buy phones for the safety and security of their
children. Parents want to know where their kids are,"
"It's only 10 years since most kids were left on corners
or at schools or sports parks waiting for their working
parents to come and pick them up."
This article is copyrighted material, the use of
which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We
are making such material available in our efforts to advance
understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic,
democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this
constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided
for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17
U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without
profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the
included information for research and educational purposes. For more
information go to:
you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your
own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the