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Monday, August 26, 2013

Comparing Cell Phone Carriers and the Family Safety Services They Provide


A cell phone can be a tremendous asset for parents if used properly. Put simply, you no longer have to worry where your son or daughter may be. Gone are the days of having to call a fellow parent's house with the hopes that your son or daughter is there. With cell phones now ever-present, you can reach your children at any time, nearly any place (obviously, kids are savvy and can always fall back on the “But I was driving” excuse, but once they reach that age, you're kind of out of luck anyway!). And yet, cell phones can also present risk.

Modern cell phones, especially smartphones, can expose your children to unsuitable material, including web content, apps, in-app products; prove to be a dangerous distraction while driving; and enable direct communication with a wide range of individuals, pre-screened and not, all without you noticing. That is unless you have a telephone plan that includes parental controls. The following options can help you mitigate these risks and protect your child's best interests.  

Get To Know Your Options and Make an Informed Decision  

There are a multitude of carriers available for individuals in need of a plan – and a multitude of different service options. Knowing what those options are can enable you to make an informed decision so that you are taking advantage of a service plan that best suits your needs. Below are some of the more popular parental control plans.  

AT&T

America's largest telephone service provider, AT&T can be found on phones throughout the country. In fact, there's a good chance that you have an AT&T contract. If you do, and you are seeking a parental control plan, you may want to look into getting one or all of AT&T's options, including: Smart Limits, Data Blocker, and FamilyMap. These various service plan add-ons can allow you to:
  • Limit the time of day your child can use his or her cell phone
  • Limit the number of texts your child receives per billing cycle
  • Control the amount of web browsing that your child does, and the dollar amounts for download purchases
  • Block inappropriate web content as well as specific phone numbers
  • Block picture and video messaging from your son or daughter's phone
  • And track your child’s phone using built-in GPS technology
These services can be bundled or purchased separately. Prices range from $4.99 to $9.99 per month.

T Mobile

Among T-Mobile's cell phone plans are a range of parental control options, including FamilyWhere, Message Blocking, Web Guard, Family Allowances, and DriveSmart. Ranging in price from $4.99 to $9.99 per month, these cell phone plans, which can be added on separately or as a bundle, provide for a number of attractive functions, including: 
  • Track your children via GPS 
  • Block and manage incoming and outgoing text messages 
  • Filter inappropriate Web content, including all 18+ content (on Web-enabled phones) 
  • Block and manage data, text, and phone usage 
  • Block and manage allowable phone numbers for outgoing and incoming calls and texts 
  • Block phone usage while moving above 10mph (for Android devices)
    With these various cell phone plans, parents can ensure that their children are safe and free from unsuitable materials, including Web content and picture messages. It also allows parents to keep track of their son or daughter's exact whereabouts. 

    Verizon 

    Offering similar plans to T-Mobile and AT&T, users can find the parental controls that they are seeking through Verizon Wireless as well. These plan add-ons, which are available from $4.99 - $9.99 per month, include Usage Controls, Family Locator, and Content Filters. With these parental controls installed on their son or daughter's phone, parents can:
    • Set limits on texting, phone, and data usage 
    • Set limits on the purchase of VZ-branded content, including games and apps 
    • Blocks texts, phone calls, and picture messages 
    • Block certain telephone numbers 
    • Track their children’s phone via the built-in GPS locator 
    • Be alerted when a child leaves a designated area 
    • Filter Web content based on four separate categories: 7+, 13+, 17+ and no filter 
    With these various add-ons, parents can essentially “parent” without actually being with their son or daughter. 

    Sprint 

    Like the other carriers discussed above, Sprint also offers parental controls for the phones within its network. Its parental control plan, simply named Parental Controls, provides for a number of different features, including: 
    • Block text messages, picture messages and phone calls from specific (blocked) numbers, as well as unknown numbers
    • Deactivate the camera function on your son or daughter's phone, to help prevent sexting and cyberbullying
    • Track your child through the built-in GPS function on his or her phone
    • Receive text and email alerts when your son or daughter leaves designated areas

    If you are a parent interested in securing your son or daughter's cell phone, Sprint has options for you. You don't have to stop looking out for your child's best interests simply because he or she is out of the house. 

    Cricket and Boost

    If parental controls are important to you, you are encouraged to check with your service provider to see if such plans are available. Though parental control cell phone plans are becoming increasingly popular, particularly with larger service providers such as AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile, not all cell phone service providers offer such plans. Neither Cricket Wireless or Boost Mobile currently offer parental controls for cell phones in their network; should you be seeking this service, this may factor into your decision when it comes time to choose a provider.

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    About the Author: Jessica Oaks is a freelance journalist who loves to cover technology and the ways that technology can make life easier. Jessica also blogs at FreshlyTechy.com 



    Edited by Anthony Gonzalez for Child Quest International

    3 comments:

    1. I think it is a great idea to get kids phones but you have to monitor their access. I recommend using a android application or software to do this. You can google gps track, log calls and text, and control access to the phone. I use cellphonesleuth.com but I recommend something like this.

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    2. Very well good discuss about comparing cell phone and this is very good idea. I am using Windows mobile and its application. Thanks for this information.

      IP Telephony Dallas

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