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Tech savvy tools will helps teens avoid costly mistakes

08 May 2013

ASIC has launched a series of multimedia classroom activities to help teenagers navigate the costs of mobile phones.

The activities will teach students in Years 5 – 8 how to be smart mobile phone consumers and have been developed as part of ASIC’s MoneySmart Teaching program.

Mobile phones are part of everyday life for the majority of teenagers as they move in to secondary school. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show 22 per cent of 9 to 11 year olds own a mobile phone. This jumps to 73 per cent for 12 to 14 year olds.

ASIC Chairman Greg Medcraft said, ‘Mobile phones give us unprecedented access to information, entertainment and our friends and family, but their features can be expensive if they are not understood and used responsibly.

‘We need to teach young people to use their mobile phones responsibly now, so they can make more confident and informed decisions, prevent costly mistakes and avoid falling into debt later in life.’

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has proved how costly those mistakes can be for young adults only a few years out of school. Forty-three per cent of 18 to 24 year olds admit they overspend on their mobile phone plan and this happens on average nearly three times a year. When asked how much extra they over spent on their last bill, 23 per cent said $51-$100, 18 per cent by $100-$200 and 15 per cent by $200-$499.

The MoneySmart Teaching multimedia classroom activities help students:

  • Choose a mobile phone plan based on what they use it for and their budget (Choosing a plan)
  • Look at the included value of a plan and the cost of calls, text and browsing the web (Calls, messaging and browsing)
  • Understand the cost of uploading videos and downloading pictures on social media (Social media)
  • Know what a premium service is and how to unsubscribe from one (Premium services)
  • Identify advertising techniques used to promote mobile phone plans (Mobile phone advertising)
  • Pick a scam and know where to go for help (Security)
  • See how in-app advertising works by paying more to reach new levels in games (Entertainment)
  • Understand how advertisers can access personal details if you subscribe to competitions and promotional offers (Advertising)
  • See how calls, SMS, voicemail, social media, internet and downloads use credit (Mobile credit)

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman played a small partnership role in the development of the online tool.

“It’s vital to help the rapidly rising number of young mobile phone users make smart choices,” Ombudsman Simon Cohen said. “This excellent tool will help reduce bill shock and the serious consequences it can have on families.”

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