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Calling all children

Cowboy hat By Jim Hightower and Phillip Frazer - Thu., 9/1/05
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Here's what I say: There just aren't enough cell phones out there! Yes, they're on the golf course, in church, on airplanes and trains, in elevators, in museums, on the beach... and in every other conceivable space on earth— except one: The tiny hands of children.

But now Disney Inc., for example, is teaming up with Sprint to provide phones to your 8-to-12 year old demographic. "It's a segment of the market that's under- penetrated," says a Sprint official, who is vice president for silly thoughts and unfortunate phrasing. Another company is targeting kiddos as young as six, and—get ready—Mattel toys is planning a Barbie phone.

To weasel into this "market," corporations are pitching the smarmy message that buying cell phones for tiny ones is really all about child safety. Meanwhile, the Brits are leading the research on the danger cellphones pose to kids. The chairman of a prestigious British medical board warned this year that children are particularly vulnerable to the microwaves these phones emit, declaring, "I don't think we can put our hands on our hearts and say mobile phones are safe."

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