Mobile phone companies say they don’t expect kids to pay full price for phones, but they are increasingly seeing children pay as much as $300 extra a year on top of their usual monthly phone bill.
The rise in the number of children opting for mobile phones is not new, but now, it’s getting more extreme.
In the last 12 months, children have been asked to pay $50 extra on top for their phones, with most of the increase attributed to the introduction of price tags.
Read more about children Parents say they are being asked to shell out more money, but are still getting their children to sign contracts with carriers to buy their phones.
Parents complain that the price tags on the phones are not just for the price, but also the carrier, as the phones don’t work for all carriers, including those that offer unlimited data.
One parent, who asked not to be named, said that her daughter, who is eight years old, has been charged for 10 months of data, but the price tag is still being passed around to other parents.
Another parent, whose children are eight, nine and 10, said she is also being asked by a parent who has already made a phone purchase to pay more for her children’s phones.
“She is asking me to pay the additional amount for her phone, but I am not going to,” she said.
In February, the Supreme Court ruled that children are not entitled to free phone service and that parents are not responsible for paying for their childrens phones.
In a separate ruling, the country’s telecommunications regulator, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), last month upheld a petition by a father of a child with a disability who had asked the regulator to lift the fee.
A parent, with a disabled child, says he has been asking for the fee to be lifted in order to get his daughter to sign a contract with the carrier.
When asked whether the fee should be removed from the childrens’ mobile phone bills, TRAI spokesperson Ajoy Kumar said: “Parents and other stakeholders have expressed concern that the charge may not be fully justified, and the fee may not provide enough support for parents to pay for their child’s mobile phone.
We are hearing that some parents have not been able to come to an agreement with the carriers, so we are reviewing the matter.
We will respond in due course.”
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