Mobile phone operators should make sure their content providers clean up their act or be cut off, telecommunications regulator Ofcom recommended this week.
Research for Ofcom showed that most children would not report finding adult content via their mobile phones. Ofcom said network operators should "redouble their efforts" to ensure that phone users know how to block unsuitable material.
"Only 15% of adults who use a mobile and who have a child in their household are aware of age verification systems," Ofcom said. "We, therefore, recommend that mobile operators redouble their efforts to ensure that the information supplied by retailers, customer services and websites is easy to understand and is accessible. This is particularly important where the default setting for content controls is off."
The current arrangements blocked access to 18-rated material to non-age-verified customers. They worked well, Ofcom said. However, more young children were getting internet-enabled phones, thus increasing their potential access to adult material. It said 7% of 8- to 17-year-olds already access the internet via a mobile.
"Mobile operators may need to consider if a binary system at 18 provides sufficient protection from inappropriate content for younger users, or whether a more granular system should be considered," Ofcom said.