Parental control features now exists on both computers and televisions, allowing parents to control the content that their children view. But with mobile phones, or at least smartphones increasingly blurring the lines between devices, controlling just what kind of content children are allowed to see is becoming quite difficult.
But now a new mobile phone service is promising to allow parents to actually control just what their children are able to do on their phones, from checking their texts and calls to checking their internet history no matter where they are even if the phone is turned off.
Of course while some may think Big Brother needs to take a back seat, Parents’ groups have welcomed the device. Developed by mobile phone Company, Bemilo, the service is presently available in the United Kingdom on the Vodafone network and is available as a pay as you go SIM card that can be used on either a tablet or smartphone. Speaking about the service, founder of Bemilo, Simon Goff said” Unlike an app, Bemilo’s SIM will work on any mobile device or tablet, and most importantly cannot be bypassed by the child.”
Users of the SIM will be able to install it into any device and for a fee of pound 2.95 a month, parents will have access to web page from which they will be able to control the SIM. The Bemilo SIM offers such features as if the user wishes to add a new friend, it must first be okayed from the webpage that is by the parent, similarly, if the user deletes any texts from the phone, a record of the texts still remains on the web page. Another innovative feature that the Bemilo SIM card offer is a timer which can be set effectively turning off the phone say for example between school lessons or late at night while still allowing for calls to specific of emergency numbers.
Chief executive of the Family and Parenting Institute, Katherine Rake commented on the Bemilo SIM card saying, “Parents have been wanting something like this for a very long time. Parents being able to read texts means if bullying is going on they will be alerted straight off and can deal with it straight away. Now we need a joined up effort across all networks and all industries”
However not all quarters received the news favourably. Nick Pickles, director of privacy group Big Brother Watch, felt that the SIM card was a means to invade privacy saying, “Giving parents the tools to control what their kids can do with smartphones is a good thing, but this is a step too far. If there are problems with what young people are using their phones for the way to fix them is not to have parents spying.”