By Laura Clark
The mobile aimed at four-year-olds
A mobile phone designed for children as young as four is to be sold in Britain.
The brightly coloured Firefly handset has just five buttons – including two which call Mum and Dad directly.
Details of the phone, which looks like a toy, came as it emerged that more than half of under-tens now own a mobile.
Playground stuff: The Firefly mobile
There were warnings yesterday […] and concerns have been raised over the effect of phone radiation on children’s health.
More than 7,000 of the £85 Firefly handsets have already been sold in Ireland.
The Dublin-based firm behind the invention is now planning a UK launch towards the end of the year.
But Margaret Morrissey, of the lobby group Parents Outloud, said: ‘The excuse will be that it is for the sake of safety, but in fact it’s for the sake of the mobile phone company’s bank balance.’
Professor Lawrie Challis, who led the Government’s research on mobile phone safety, said primary school pupils should not have phones at all.
He added that parents should encourage older children to text rather than make calls, since texting exposes them to lower levels of radiation.
The warning came as figures from MobileYouth, a research consultancy which tracks technology use by youngsters, found that 52 per cent of UK children aged five to nine have a mobile. Among ten to 14-year-olds, usage is running at almost 85 per cent.
Official Government advice to parents remains that they should avoid giving mobiles to under-16s as a precaution.
But other countries are taking a tougher stance.
France is pushing through laws banning sales of mobile phones to children under six and prohibiting advertising them to children under 12.