Caution urged for parents choosing radios as Christmas gifts

Parents are urged to use caution when choosing portable handheld radios as Christmas gifts, as improper use can lead to fines, imprisonment or worse.

Portable, handheld UHF radios are sold as toys by number of vendors such as Big W, Target, Aldi, Jaycar as well as various online retailers, however use of these devices by young operators come with substantial risk. Despite often being advertised with “privacy” features, this does not prevent eavesdropping by other CB radio users, who are easily able to listen to transmissions made by these devices.

Children readily reveal their location via radio, potentially broadcasting their whereabouts to anyone within range of their transmission – including people that may seek to harm them. These radios often support transmission on repeater input channels, which can potentially re-broadcast the low powered transmissions from these devices for tens, even hundreds of kilometres.

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Other radio users can also readily talk to young radio operators using their own CB radio, subjecting young radio operators to vulgar, sexually explicit and other inappropiate communications over the radio.

Many of these devices do not have any restriction on transmitting on channels 5 and 35. Children who inadvertently or unknowingly use these channels may interfere with an emergency broadcast. Improper use of channels 5/35 carries a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment, or a fine of $165,000. Interfering with an emergency transmission carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment, or a fine of $550,000.

If you do choose to purchase a handheld CB radio for your child for Christmas, ensure that you provide adequate supervision, inform them of the importance of keeping their location secret and train them in the proper use of emergency channels and radio etiquette.

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