Brandon Baker has just completed his graduation thesis about the role and potential effects that the mobile phone use in "hero" shows in Japan has on children.
While each of the major operators here have rolled out phones, and service plans geared specifically towards children, this paper suggests that children actually should not be given a fully-equipped mobile phone until they are at least 16 years old. Additionally, this paper concludes that mobile businesses must take a more vigilant role in their efforts to profit from the "youth" market, as the negative consequences that mobile phone usage has upon children seems to far outweigh the benefits.
If this latest news from Spain (thanks to Brandon for the update on this!) isn't enough to convince you of the seriousness of this issue, please read through Brandon's entire thesis for a long list of other instances in which mobile phones have led to serious threats to children.
If you agree with the conclusions of this paper then, I believe that it's time for everyone within the wireless ecosystem to begin to carefully reconsider how we are approaching the issue of children and mobile phones.
The Mobile Consumer Lab will be taking this on as one of our initiatives in the Fall 2008 semester, and are hoping that these efforts will lead to more effective rules and guidelines for how all of us approach the issue of children's usage of mobile phones.