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35% of eight year olds own a mobile phone

A new survey by the charity Personal Finance Education Group (pfeg) has revealed that 35 percent of UK children own a mobile phone by the time they are eight years old. The survey also highlighted that 75 percent of kids aged seven to 15 own at least one mobile phone.

I can't help but wonder whether an eight-year old child really needs a mobile phone. At risk of trotting out the very clichéd 'when I were a lad routine' I certainly didn't need a mobile phone at that age. I chatted to my friends face-to-face in the playground at break time, or we went to each other's for tea after school and to the park at weekends.

I only ever made phone calls to thank distant relatives for birthday presents and even then it was on a fixed line under direct supervision of my parents. I didn't get a mobile until I was 16 years old, which I funded myself. The fact is, I didn't need a mobile at that age, and kids today don't really need them either.

While I think it's great kids are embracing technology, I fear this is creating huge negative impacts on society that could be leading to bigger problems. To begin with, I'm sure in this economic climate most parents have better things to spend their money on, such as re-paying mortgages and loans, rather than topping up their kid's credit so they can text during lessons when they should be learning.

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Pfeg said today's children are financially aware because the peer pressure of owning phones and gadgets means they have to budget to ensure they can afford to purchase ringtones and make calls. However, the research also revealed that average weekly pocket money now stands at £6.32 - surely not enough to constantly top up a mobile phone - leaving it down to the parents.

But in giving our kids top-of-the-range technology, are we also increasing the risk of them being mugged, or bullied into handing over the devices? This is what happened during an incident in Neasden, London this weekend, when two teenagers were shot because they wouldn't hand over their mobile phones and iPods to muggers.

There is also the risk that by handing our children mobile phones, laptops and iPods, we are blurring the lines between childhood and adulthood. Is it possible that by giving a child a mobile phone at eight years old, we're starting to create a mini-adult who, by 13, will think they are physically and mentally mature enough to father children?

While it may seem extreme to draw parallels between the two, there is a very thin line between helping our kids embrace future technology without stopping them enjoying a childhood and turning them into mini adults.

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