Hannover (dpa) – Colorful pictures, ringtones, text messages and games – the mobile phone is much more than just a mobile phone for teenagers. It is a must as a toy as a status symbol – and quickly becomes a debt trap. Already twelve percent of the 13 to 24-year-olds in Germany are in debt, with an average of 1810 euros. The mobile phone is already in fourth place of the reasons for loans, after the car, going out and clothes. These are the findings of a study by the Munich Institute for Youth Research, in which 1228 young people were questioned about their debts nationwide.
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Picture: © matttilda / fotolia.com / Text: dpa
The money needed is borrowed mainly from the parents. These are also the ones who adhere to the teenagers for their “mobile phone”. “Young people under 18 years can only conclude a mobile phone contract with the consent of their parents,” says Claudia Kurzbuch of the Federal Working Community (BAG) debt counseling in Kassel. This is hardly reassuring given 2.8 million households in debt. The result: more and more people end up at a young age in debt counseling. “Six years ago, the young adult was an exception for us, today he is a familiar picture.”
The consumer goods industry is complicit with Kurzbuch: “It tries to address the target group of under-25s by all means.” With success: At the end of last year, according to a Cologne study, about 82 percent of 12 to 19-year-olds in Germany had a cell phone – and the number is rising. For telephoning and sending text messages (SMS) they spend according to the consumer center Baden -Würtemberg monthly about 72 million euros.
For the bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover, Margot Kässmann, the struggle of the kids to “belong to them” is the main reason for the development: “The advertising world tells them that their wishes must be satisfied in order to keep up. ” To keep up belongs the latest mobile phone with the funniest logo. But the picture of Garfield on the display or the current Madonna hit as a ringtone cost money. The purchase is usually made on an expensive 0190 number, the consumer will quickly pulled up to ten euros out of his pocket.
In the business with the extras there are many “black sheep”, says the spokesman of the network operator T-Mobile, Philipp Schindera. For his company, the costs are transparent and easily accessible. “Among the defaulting payers are also hardly young people.” He points out criticism of the marketing. “Although our advertising addresses a broad range of buyers, we do not target the adolescents”. As with all services, there is a great deal of enticement with cell phones and a certain degree of maturity for responsible use. “Similar to credit cards.”
In the prepaid card Schindera sees a good opportunity for parents to control the expenses of their pupils. On these cards – similar to the phone card – a fixed balance stored. Once it’s used up, the cell phone owner can no longer talk on the phone. The best chance for parents to control the use, says the spokeswoman of the mobile phone manufacturer Nokia, Eva Heller. “For security reasons, they often want their child to have a cell phone, so they stay in control.”
So that the debt trap mobile phone after reaching the age of majority not snap, the parents would have to be taken beyond prepaid in the obligation to be, demands the president of the German child protection association, Heinz Hilgers. “You must teach the children a responsible use of money.” That also means Claudia Kurzbuch of the debt counseling: “You can not just let children run into the market economy, you have to explain them.”