Children are learning how to use a smartphone before they can even spell their name or have started school, according to new research from Microsoft which shows many children are playing with their smartphones before they have started school or even learnt to spell their own name. Young kids are mainly playing with phones for games and entertainment, with 57 per cent of parents who have children under five years reporting that their child started playing with their phone before their fifth birthday and 37 per cent stating their child did so before their third birthday. The survey, developed with Galaxy Research, found that 67 per cent of Australian parents allow their young children to play with their smartphones for entertainment and admitted it was a way to keep them occupied. The research also highlighted the need for smartphones to now be 'kid proofed', with one in three parents reporting some sort of mishap with young children using their smartphone, including accidentally changing settings, deleting contacts, making calls or downloading content their parents did not want them to access.
The research comes as Microsoft officially unveiled Windows Phone 8 yesterday, the latest version of the company's smartphone operating system, and the world's most personal Smartphone. It includes an in-built Kid's Corner, a child-friendly environment where kids can play the games, music or videos they like without the risk of accessing parents' private information. Microsoft's research found parents are looking for a way to better manage their child's phone use, with 55% saying they would like more control over the content their child can access. Two in three parents said they would consider a feature that allows them to restrict or monitor the content their child can access on their smartphone. "As a parent I know that children love to play with smartphones for the games, music and entertainment, and for the most part its good fun," Microsoft Australia Windows Phone Business Group Lead, Megan Howard, said. "That is, until they decide to text message your boss on your behalf or find the factory reset button on your phone! From settings, I can create my Kid's Corner and then pick their favourite games, input some music or videos and choose some appropriate Apps to keep them entertained. "Then, from a locked phone, I simply open it by swiping open across, as opposed to up, and I have access to Kid's Corner. I enter into a safer environment where my children can even customise their corner to give it a name and change the theme colour. "They can rearrange and resize tiles to personalise their Start Screen so it's unique for them."