Mobile telephone operators should verify the age of children and youngsters when they access multimedia services by having a record of users' dates of birth. This is one of the recommendations in a report by researchers from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (Spain), that also suggest content classifications for mobiles by age, like in the case of video games.
"Verification of age upon access to mobile phone services is not effective because the child can also falsify their age by checking a different box," as explained to SINC by Mara de Miguel Molina, lecturer at the Polytechnic University of Valencia.
"However, operators could be made aware of the age of their young users if their parents were to disclose such information when purchasing a mobile phone for their child. This information could then be registered," adds the researcher, who headed the study on mobile services aimed at children in Spain.
Published in the 'Quality & Quantity' journal, the report outlines that if this measure were adopted, access to adult sites or those not suitable for minors could be filtered or blocked. This would mean common regulations for operators.
The majority of companies currently operating in Spain have signed the self-regulation code of the Spanish Mobile Operators Association, AESAM, which supports "responsible access" to content. Even so, according to the study this does not suffice and it should be more specific when making reference to children.
The researchers have also recommended the creation of a classification scheme according to user age and service theme like the one currently in place for video games: the Pan European Game Information (PEGI), which recommends games for children and youngsters of 3, 7, 12, 16 and over 18 years.
Recommendations to the Government
The study was conducted using surveys sent to companies, government agencies and child protection associations. I
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology