South Korea is trying to stop teenagers ringing up massive mobile phone bills with new rules that let parents control just how long the handsets are used.
Phone bill angst is rife in South Korea, where data from mobile service operators show that four out of five people own a handset and at least six out of ten school-age children have one.
A Telecommunications Ministry official said on Friday that from January, children will need parental permission to go above a pre-set limit, which can be up to 30,000 won ($32.57) a month.
Parents will also receive detailed information about the types of services their children subscribe to.
At present, parents can set a limit on how long children can talk on their mobiles, but all the kids have to do is ask the mobile provider to increase the limit.
In February, a teenaged South Korean boy killed himself after tallying a phone bill of 3.7 million won ($4,017).
“The ministry hopes these regulations will prevent teenagers from making a lot of mistakes about how they use their mobile phones, which can lead to mounting bills,” the telecommunications ministry said in a press release.
Cho Jin-kyung said she hoped the new regulations would mean her teenaged daughter spends less time on the phone and more with her books.
“My daughter’s phone bill always causes me stress,” Cho said. “I scold her all the time over it and threaten to cut her allowance, but it never works.”
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