1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/09/2010   
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Children owning mobile phones(a) - April 2009
Graph Image for Children owning mobile phones(a) - April 2009

Footnote(s): (a) Proportion of all children in the relevant age group.

Source(s): ABS Household Use of Information Technology, 2008-09 (cat. no. 8146.0)


Older children, children from one parent families, and children from families where the parent or parents are employed are more likely to have their own mobile phones than other children.

In April 2009, nearly a third (31%) of children aged 5-14 years had their own mobile phones (841,000 children), however for older children (aged 12-14 years) this proportion was much higher (76%). Children from one parent families were more likely to have their own mobile phone (38%) than children from couple families (29%), regardless of the age of the children. Mobile phone ownership was also higher for children where the sole parent (45%), or both parents (33%), were employed.

Over half of the children with mobile phones used it more to contact family (60%) than to contact friends (36%) and this was especially true for younger children. For children aged 5-8 years, almost all of them (95%) used their mobile phone more to contact family, while for older children (aged 12-14 years) just over half did (52%). Very few children with mobile phones used their mobile phones to access the Internet in April 2009.

Mobile phones enable instant direct communication between family members and friends, but their widespread use also gives rise to some security concerns. Phones may also have Internet capabilities and are, by their nature, less subject to direct adult supervision than home or school Internet access. Few children who owned mobile phones in April 2009 were reported to have had some kind of personal safety or security problem (3% or 28,000 children). These problems included bullying or threatening behaviour, receiving inappropriate material in text or media messages, and strangers asking for or gaining access to the child's personal information. Educating children about the safe and appropriate use of mobile phones was the most common action taken by parents or guardians for personal safety or security of children (81%), followed by monitoring children's mobile phone activities (53%) and blocking phone numbers or restricting services (22%).


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