Three quarters of under 12s in city have smartphone

The average age for getting a smartphone is ten, according to the study
The average age for getting a smartphone is ten, according to the study
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THREE-quarters of children under 12 in the city own smartphones – but a national campaign is calling for a minimum age restriction.

Online safety group Internet Matters carried out the survey, which found Edinburgh came sixth nationally for the most children between eight and 11 who own the devices.

Newcastle-upon-Tyne was top of the survey, with 90.5 per cent of this age group owning smartphones, which enable children to surf the internet.

While parents believe responsibility for keeping children safe online rests with them, nine out of ten would like to see schools carry more e-safety lessons.

Carolyn Bunting, general manager at Internet Matters, said the results showed it was more important than ever parents understood what their children were viewing online.

She said: “With such a huge amount of young people owning smartphones and the acceptable age of doing so being ten, parents need to be more aware than ever of what their children are doing online.

“That’s why we have launched our brand new online safety guide, so that parents remember these safety precautions in their back-to-school shopping list for their children.

“We would urge parents to ensure they have the conversation with their children about how to be responsible on their phones, and ensure that the safety settings are in place across all their devices and search engines.”

Child psychotherapist Catherine Knibbs said although ten seemed young to own a mobile phone, it is the age when kids start wanting independence.

She said: “It is no surprise that ten appears to be the most popular age parents feel comfortable letting their children own a smartphone as this is the age that children move from a more simplistic view of the world to being more independent, think in a more complex way, and show the ability to understand the consequences of their actions.

“This adult-like behaviour in children makes parents feel more comfortable that their children are grown up enough to own a smartphone, but it’s a tough decision as parents need to balance this new-found freedom with a level of supervision and boundary setting to ensure safe internet usage.”

On Friday and Saturday, Edinburgh police are launching a Cyber Keep Safe initiative to provide advice for 11- to 14-year-olds, plus parents, carers, teachers and elderly people, on using the web safely.

Businesses are also welcome to attend the event, which is at the Centre in Livingston from 11am-11.45am.

Chief Inspector Scott Tees of the Specialist Crime Division said: “Criminals are using extremely sophisticated techniques to target the public. We are suggesting ways they can protect their personal details from being exploited.”

Bring your mobile devices, laptops and tablets for a free security check by the Napier University Cyber Team, to identify security issues.