Disney today announced its intention to create the first mobile phone service in the UK specifically designed for families.

The service, called Disney Mobile, will use the O2 network and is expected to launch later this year.

According to the company, Disney Mobile plans to offer a family-package, which will include multiple handsets within the same subscription, allowing parents to tailor the service to meet the unique communications needs of their family.

In addition, Disney Mobile will provide customisable tools to balance children's needs with controls that allow parents to manage family phone usage and help teach children responsible use, including: the ability to control children's spending on their mobiles; limited internet access and no access to chatrooms; and the ability to program a restricted amount of numbers for voice calls and messaging.

Ipsos MORI research confirms that a majority of parents by three to one believe the benefits of children owning a mobile phone outweighs any disadvantages.

"Many parents want to stay in touch with their children by mobile phone but worry about them running up high bills, downloading inappropriate content, and being safe", commented John Carr, new technology adviser for the children's charity NCH and the Children's Charity Coalition for Internet safety. "This is a highly innovative service which will help both parents and children use mobile phones with greater confidence and help ensure more children and young people are kept safe."

Disney Mobile will use the O2 network on a wholesale basis and will be responsible for all aspects of the service, including product development, distribution, marketing, customer relations, billing and other business operations.

Disney Mobile handsets will have a stylish, adult design and come with a hands-free kit the company said in a statement.

Recent research has shown that 64 per cent of children aged 10-15 in the UK now own a mobile phone, a figure that has more than doubled since early 2000.