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Two Dutch telcos - KPN and Scarlet - have introduced mobile phones specially made for young children.

On Wednesday, national carrier KPN will unveil a kid phone - iKids - with a built in GPS receiver, which remains working even when the phone isn't activated. Parents can select three 'safety zones', areas where their children are allowed to play. If they wonder off to another area, parents receive an SMS message. They can also look up the child's whereabouts on a virtual map. If one pre-defined number isn't answered, the phone will try the next one.

Scarlet, which launched its Buddy Bear on October 15, targets 4 to 9 year olds. Kids can receive calls from all over the world, but they can only phone and SMS to four pre-defined numbers. The € 129 handset can also be used as a baby phone. Parents receive a warning SMS when the battery gets low.

The idea of a phone for kids is not entirely new. In the US, a company called Fireflymobile already sells a four button mobile phone, shaped to fit a kid's hand and capable of making pre-defined calls.

A survey in Germany shows that 6 per cent of 6 to 9 year-olds about already own a mobile phone.

Not everyone seems to like the idea of children babbling away for hours to grandpa or grandma. Earlier this year, scientists in the US warned that parents should think twice before giving in to a kid's demands for a cell phone, because of the potential long-term health risks. In the UK, the National Radiological Protection Board advised that parents should not give mobile phones to children age 8 or younger. As a result of these warnings, Dutch electronics retail chain BCC last year pulled the Foony phone from its shelves.®

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