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Half a million kids in the UK under the age of ten will have a mobile phone by the end of next year, according to research published by market intelligence outfit mobileYouth.

Today, one in nine (400,000) children aged between five and nine has a mobile phone. In 2000, the number was less than 80,000.

The increase in mobile phone usage by young children is not limited to the UK.

Indeed, mobileYouth found that this latest trend in the UK is merely mimicking what's happened in other countries such as Japan and those in Scandinavia.

However, the research has sparked a lively debate about the merits of giving young kids mobile phones. Concerned parents claim it gives both children and parents security to know that help, if needed, is just a phone call away.

Critics insist that a five-year-old simply shouldn't be given a mobile especially in light of fears that young children could be potentially damaging their health by using them. Or making them a target of crime.

Said report author Josh Dhaliwal: "Whilst mobileYouth in no way advocates the advertising, marketing and sale of mobile phones to children per se, there is a growing trend for parents to overlook any potential hazards with their own concerns for the security of their children and a mobile phone allows them to be remain within reach." ®

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