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The BBC's John Moylan
"One schoolyard craze that refuses to go away"
 real 56k

Monday, 29 January, 2001, 00:57 GMT
Half UK children own mobiles
Young people on mobile phones
More young girls own mobiles than boys
Nearly 50% of all children in the UK aged between seven and 16 now own mobile phones, a report has revealed.

The survey, carried out by the NOP Research Group, reveals that 52% of girls and 44% of boys have their own mobile.

And it is 14 to 16-year-olds that have the highest proportion, with at least 77% owning one.


Kids have been quick to turn the mobile phone to their own advantage

NOP's Emma Williamson
But while parents give their children mobile phones for use in emergencies, more often than not they are used to keep in touch with friends.

Text messaging is rapidly becoming the favourite way of contacting others with mobiles. On average 2.5 messages are sent each day from each mobile, compared with two voice calls a day.

Associate director of NOP Emma Williamson said the privacy mobiles allow is part of the attraction for children.

Privacy

"Parents frequently give their child a mobile phone for use in emergencies. Kids, though, have been quick to turn the mobile phone to their own advantage," she said.

"Kids, and especially those in their mid-teens, guard their privacy jealously.

"Privacy is something that often may not be available to them at school or in the home, so they view SMS texting as the ideal way in which to communicate confidentially with one another."

Mobile phone giants Vodafone and Orange reported bumper sales over the Christmas period.

Analysts estimate that two thirds, or 40 million, of the UK population now have a mobile phone.

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