Sorry!! The article you are trying to read is not available now.
Thank you very much;
you're only a step away from
downloading your reports.

How Four Cell Phone Carriers Stack Up on Parental Controls

Which offers parents the most options?

PrintPRINT
By Monica Villa

As the summer break comes to an end and families prepare for the start of a new school year, thousands of parents are bracing themselves for the inevitable urgent demands for a new cell phone.

Maybe it’s a fourth or fifth grader clamoring for his first-ever phone, or perhaps it’s a middle-school student wondering why she’s the only one in her class without a smartphone.
Whatever the reasons behind the appeals, parents had better be ready!

If you have a younger child and you decide that he or she is ready for that first phone, then you might want to investigate some of the parental controls that are now commonly available. All the main cellular providers have various levels and types of parental controls. Usually, some kind of family plan is necessary but this is not always the case.

Parental controls for cell phones fall into three distinct categories:

1. Content filters

These allow parents to set filters for what multimedia content their children can download to their phones. While content filters are more important for smartphones with full web access and video download capability, most cell phones now have some kind of browser. However, parents should be aware that content filters are not foolproof and inappropriate content can also be received via text, IM or e-mail.

2. Usage controls

Usage controls put the parent in charge of a child’s cell phone usage, regulating the number of calls and text messages. They can also block certain numbers or restrict outgoing calls to a pre-approved list, and even disable the phone during certain times of day, like school hours or after 9 pm.

3. Location and monitoring controls

These can be used to monitor a child’s whereabouts through built-in GPS systems. Some systems can even send alerts when a child’s cell phone moves out of a pre-agreed zone or range.

Let’s take a look at each of the main carriers and see what they provide.

AT&T (T)

AT&T’s main parental control product is AT&T Smart Limits for Wireless™,
which allows parents to set limits for the number of text and instant messages; the dollar amount of downloadable purchases (ringtones, etc.); the amount, if any, of web browsing; the times of day the phone can be used; who can call or be called (blocking); and the type of content that be accessed.

With the usage controls, the child receives a warning notification as pre-agreed limits are approached. Once a limit is reached, that particular service will be suspended until the next billing cycle. One drawback with Smart Limits is that you can’t restrict the overall number of minutes, just the volume of calls, which might be a problem with talkative teenagers!

Smart Limits works with any active AT&T post-paid plan and costs $4.99 per month per line.
< Previous
No positions in stocks mentioned.

© Monica Vila, The Online Mom.

The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

Copyright 2011 Minyanville Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

PrintPRINT
 
Featured Videos

WHAT'S POPULAR IN THE VILLE