The Japanese Government is launching a campaign to try and curtail the use of mobile phones with internet access by children, concerned that they are vulnerable to exploitation by online criminals and will suffer social and educational difficulties.
A range of recommendations to limit the use of internet-capable phones was supplied to the governmen by an education reform panel and the measures were approved with wide-spread support earlier this week, including moves to pressure mobile manufacturers into creating handsets that will be less ‘damaging’ to children.
Around two thirds of Japanese high school students are estimated to have mobiles, and around a third of primary students, and the panel said that the widespread mobile internet access provided is seeing young children viewing inappropriate and unfiltered content on a regular basis, as well as spending time messaging as opposed to working or socialising in their physical environment.
The panel is calling for mobile manufacturers to begin producing handsets that only allow basic speech communication, to cut down on internet use and messaging, and handsets with inbuilt GPS that can be used by parents to track the movements of their children. With government pressure, the panel hopes a range of ‘child friendly’ handsets can be created and marketed to Japanese parents in order to minimise the harmful effects caused by current models.