Youths hit by cost of mobile phone use

IT SEEMS whereever you look, you're bound to see yet another teenager chattering away on a mobile phone or punching in an SMS letter.

The research backs it up: there are a lot of young kids using mobile phones.

One of the major issues affecting young people with mobile phones is debt.

Mobile phone debt was highest for the 18 to 24-year-old age category.

Kids under 18 mainly use pre-paid systems whereby they buy credit for their phone those over 18 mainly use a post-paid plan or 'use now, pay later' scheme which often has youth falling into debt traps.

Studies by Victoria University and the Youth Action Policy Association (YAPA) related that about 20 per cent of people under 18 said phone debt had caused them major problems.

Four per cent had received bills for more than $1500 and one in 10 had spent more than 50 per cent of their income on phone bills.

However phone debt is not restricted to youth on plan systems as Ashleigh Warry described.

'$15 will last me about three days,' Ashleigh said. 'If I was on a plan, I'd go through heaps more.'

Ashleigh's mother, Terry Mugridge has worked out a system to make sure Ashleigh doesn't overspend although Mrs Mugridge has a different idea of how much credit Ashleigh goes through.

'She's on pre-paid because other wise she would just text away all day,' Mrs Mugridge said.

'If I give her $15 of credit she'll go through that in a week.

'I try and restrict it so if she spends the $15 she won't get any more until next time.

'But if she's going somewhere I make sure she's got credit.'

It was because of figures like these and community concern that a need for youth education about mobile phones was recognised.

The Australian Communications Association recently released an information kit to help young people avoid large phone bills and the kit will be distributed to schools.

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