According to some new research, kids are getting smartphones at surprisingly young ages. With this happening, and with parents concerned about mobile security, Telstra is launching a free service to help track what’s going on and give adults some piece of mind.

What age would you give your kids a smartphone?

According to some new research, the average age little ones are getting them is 12, but some families are setting up their children with a smartphone from the age of three, with the average child aged 3 to 17 spending over 20 hours per week on a smartphone.

The info comes courtesy of Telstra, which took a moment to research how much time kids spend with the devices, and at what age they started using them.

The results are pretty clear, and that’s that children and teens love their phones, with 70 percent of parents thinking that smartphone use has increased since their children received their own smartphone, instead of constantly borrowing the one their parents own.

According to the research, smartphone use grows when the kids become teens — likely because of that social side of things — with 68 percent of 10-17 year olds using their phone between 7 and 9 pm, while 41 percent of 16 and 17 years old are using them between 9 and midnight. We’re guessing everyone else is asleep.

And the information also suggests that parents started the kids off young because they thought it would make the kids more independent, and yet also more secure, because the kids were contactable at any time (in theory, anyway).

Despite this instant security, the research also reveals that parents are still concerned about cyber-safety for their kids, with 77 percent of parents surveyed having concerns about their kids and internet scams, while unsupervised access is also an issue.

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With this in mind, Telstra has taken the time to put together a tool called “Telstra Mobile Protect” that will hopefully make parents breathe a little easier, releasing it to curb what their kids do on the phone, block calls and texts, and even do a little parental control by choosing what sort of websites the kids can access and blocking adult content.

“We know mobiles provide an important way for parents to keep in touch with their children and, for kids to gain greater independence,” said Shelly Gorr, Cyber Safety Manager at Telstra.

“Telstra Mobile Protect helps parents confidently support and protect their kids as they explore the digital world,” she said. “Using Mobile Protect, parents can agree limits with their kids and schedule online access so they have distraction- free homework periods and internet-free bedtimes.”

The service is free provided mum and dad are managing the account of the child through Telstra, and will allow them to block calls, callers, texts, and texters made over the Telstra network by setting up a safe list of who the child can contact, with time limits also able to be setup for web browsing and phone calls.

Web content can also be blocked and controlled, with various browsing profiles configured for age groups so that the little ones might not be able to circumvent the home WiFi and browse something naughty by logging onto the phone network.

Furthermore, since education is key, Telstra has come up with a concept for kids and parents to talk about and agree to, called the “My First Mobile Agreement.” Think of it as a contract for children to look at and talk about with their parents, agreeing to balance their mobile and home time, and for parents to not cyber-stalk and let the child have a modicum of freedom.

“We’ve created the agreement so parents can sit down with their kids and discuss how they can stay happy and safe when using a mobile,” said Ms Gorr. “It outlines some basic ground rules for kids to follow, but also includes rules for parents.”

Both the agreement and Mobile Protect service are available now, both for free, with the agreement downloadable via this link, and Telstra Mobile Protect able to be added to a service in the features section of the “plans and usage” tab of a Telstra account.