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Parental controls on AT&T wireless

Today AT&T announced the launch of its web-based parental control feature for wireless, called AT&T Smart Limits for Wireless.

At $4.99 a month for each line, parents can restrict features on a phone. That includes:

  • Limiting the number of minutes a child can use a wireless phone, and what hours of the day/week they can use it.
  • Limiting text and instant messages.
  • Establish a limit on how much they can spend on downloaded purchases, such as ringtones and games.
  • Block calls and texts to and from numbers parents don't approve of (it will always allow a child to call 911).
  • Filter Internet access to sites that are labeled as inappropriate.

When children come close to the limit for any of the following, a warning notice pops up. And the settings can be changed anytime via a website. It works on any phone with AT&T, so you don't need to buy a special phone for your child.

AT&T released a survey showing that 84 percent of consumers believe parental controls are important in today's communication technologies (which isn't a surprising statistic)... BUT 31 percent said they don't know how to use parental controls to protect children.

If you don't have AT&T, you can ask your wireless provider what sort of parental control services they offer. Sometimes the controls can be set using the phone, sometimes you need to buy a particular phone. Sprint and Verizon also offer location-based services (using GPS) that let parents keep track of where their children are and notify parents if the child has left a certain area. For example, if a child leaves the school grounds, the parents get a text message.

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Ed Hawco

Hey Carey. This kind of product is on the verge of really booming. Disney Mobile offers parental controls, as do a few other companies. There's also Parent Patrol, which works exactly like the AT&T service (http://www.parent-patrol.com), and it's been around longer except it isn't widely available yet. Several mobile carriers are going to launch it this fall, however, so AT&T is going to have competition!

Ed Hawco

Whoops: the link got broken. It should be http://www.parent-patrol.com

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