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Cellphone companies should stop targeting children

Cell phone companies should stop targeting children

Green MP Sue Kedgley is calling on Telecom and other phone companies to stop exploitative targeting of young children in their advertising campaigns for cell phones.

“Telecom’s latest ads are targeted at children as young as three or four and imply that it is normal and acceptable for these very young children to have a cell phone.

“The ads – with their message ‘I want to see my Mum on my cell phone’ – are obviously intended to try to get children to pester their parents to have a cell phone.

“Clearly, these telecommunication operators are putting the pursuit of profit ahead of any concern for the welfare of our children. This is predatory and irresponsible.”

Ms Kedgley wants an agreement not to target children in advertising campaigns to be included in the Code of Conduct for mobile operators that the Telecommunications Carriers’ Forum is developing. The Code will deal with the misuse of mobile phone technology.

She also believes the Children’s Commissioner should take an interest in the issue, and push for a ban on cell phone advertising to be included in the Code for Advertising to Children

Ms Kedgley said such an agreement was needed because children’s physiology made them especially susceptible to the possibly harmful effects of cell phone use.

“A British Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones recommended in 2001 that children should be discouraged from using cell phones and that telecommunication companies ‘refrain from promoting the use of mobile phones by children’.

It said children’s skulls were thinner than those of adults and their brains smaller, so radiation emitted from cell phones could more easily penetrate their heads.

Other experts have warned that if there are adverse health effects from mobile phone use, it will be children who will be the most vulnerable and pay the highest price.

Ms Kedgley pointed out that the World Health Organisation had recommended limiting children’s exposure to radio frequency fields from cell phones, and said new evidence of health effects from cell phones was coming out all the time.

“The jury is still out. Some research links cell phones with brain tumours, and more research is needed into whether mobile phones carry long-term health risks. Until that research is done, it is prudent to limit our children’s use of cell phones.”

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