Orange under fire for casting child in TV campaign

LONDON - Children's groups have hit out at an Orange TV campaign fronted by a small boy amid claims that it flouts official guidelines on the promotion of mobile phones.

They have expressed "serious concern" about the spot, created by Mother, which features a 12-year-old who turns "teacher" to lecture a class of adults on how to get the most out of their mobile phones.

The commercial faces allegations that it flies in the face of the government-commissioned Stewart report on the potential health risks of using mobile phones. The report warned that children may be more vulnerable to damage from mobile-phone use because their nervous systems are still developing.

It concluded the widespread use of mobiles by children should be discouraged and manufacturers "should refrain from promoting the use of mobile phones by children".

Orange claims the commercial, given the go-ahead for unrestricted screening by the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre, is clearly targeted at adults and adheres to the guidelines.

But the National Family and Parenting Institute insisted that the commercial should be restricted to late-evening screening.

"It's a bit disingenuous for Orange to claim that the ad is aimed at grown-ups when it's being shown at times when so many children are watching," a spokeswoman said. "This causes us serious concern."

Stef Calcraft, a partner at Mother, countered the claims. He argued: "The boy is really an 'enabler' who is helping adults get to grips with their mobile phones."

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