More than nine out of 10 Irish adults believe that parents or guardians should be responsible for deciding whether children under the age of 13 should own mobile phones, according to a new survey.
Empathy Research found that 91pc of respondents said that the decision to let children own mobile phones should be left to parents, 7pc said that the Government should be responsible and 1pc said that schools should decide.
A majority of those polled, 86pc in total, said that between the ages of 10 and 12 years was an appropriate time for children to start owning mobile phones. Some 7pc felt that seven to nine year olds should be permitted to have mobiles; 8pc said that children should be allowed to own mobiles no matter what age they are.
Respondents were also asked what were the main reasons parents should allow their kids to own mobiles. The answers varied: almost three quarters of those polled (74pc) said it was most important to be able to stay in touch with their children. Safety reasons were given in 67pc of cases. Interestingly, 53pc of people cited pressure from children as the primary factor in deciding to let them have mobiles. The idea of keeping kids up to speed with technology does not appear to hold much water, as just 4pc of respondents gave this as the main reason.
The last question asked whether people think it is a good idea for a child as young as eight years old to have a mobile. Answers were given as open responses rather than in statistical format. Most of those who replied to this question believe it is a bad idea; some cited health concerns and others suggested that children could be at risk of bullying or being attacked for their phones.
Empathy Research, which carried out the poll, has exclusive access to the membership of Pigsback.com, a online customer loyalty service that has 202,000 active Irish members. The majority of these members are in the 23-35 age bracket; 60pc of them are women and 40pc are men.
By Gordon Smith