No halt to downward mobile marketing (online)

by Julian Lee, Marketing Reporter

January 13, 2005

The mobile phone industry has ruled out changes to marketing to children in light of a warning by a leading scientist that the phones could still pose health risks.

The British Government's leading adviser on radiation, Sir William Stewart, has urged parents of children under 10 to deny them access to mobile phones until scientists can say handsets are safe.

His warnings come as the number of six- to nine-year-olds using mobiles in Australia hit 2 per cent, far less than the reported figure of 14 per cent in Britain.

Australia's mobile phone operators claim they are doing enough already to ensure that figure does not rise.

"Our position to not market to under 10s remains solely a social issue. Our resolve in this respect has not changed. The health issues remains a separate issue," a Virgin Mobile spokeswoman said.

"There's nothing new in the research and it confirms that mobile phones do not cause adverse effects," a Telstra spokesman said. Telstra is exploring a handset for the under-10s and promotions in magazines targeting 10- to 14-year-olds are acceptable because Telstra classifies them as "youths" not "children". Vodafone and Optus are not changing their guidelines that prohibit marketing to under-16s.

As chairman of Britain's National Radiation Protection Board, Sir William concluded in 2000 that there were no adverse health effects for the general public but that children should only use mobiles for essential calls.

This week he told the London-based Daily Telegraph that making mobiles available to children under nine was "ludicrous". He was more concerned about the possible health hazards than he was five years ago because the number of mobile phones had doubled, the paper reported.

In October, Stockholm's Karolinska Institute found there was an increased risk of a brain tumour for people who had used mobiles for more than 10 years.

The Federal Government agency that monitors radiation levels, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, is satisfied with the emission levels of handsets but a spokesman admitted there was still a "degree of uncertainty".

A specialist in occupational medicine, Dr Bruce Hocking, said: "There are still major concerns about the safety of handsets so if people are going to be serious where children are concerned then they should urge them to use SMS or a landline in ordinary circumstances."


Informant: Don Maisch


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Februar 2005

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