Protecting Your Kids From Mobile Phone Porn

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Owners of iPhones are known for copping a ‘tude -- deserved or not -- about their sleek and fancy phone. But, the latest bragging rights might be of a saucier variety: The technorati say that the 3G iPhone, with its speed and pixilated prowess, is the most porn-friendly mobile phone ever.

Some sectors of the adult entertainment industry have even catered the packaging of their content specifically for the iPhone 3G, debuting on July 11, with grander offerings to come, according to an article in Time magazine about the “coming pornocopia.”

"You really can’t get porn on your phone, which is why porn producers are hyped for the iPhone,” says Matt Buchanan, associate editor of the tech blog Gizmodo. But, there’s one group of iPhone purchasers who might not be so enthused about this news: moms and dads.

However, an Apple (APPL) spokesperson says that parents can just turn off access to the phone’s Safari Web browser. (They can also turn off explicit content on iTunes and YouTube, in addition to installing applications).

Porn on mobile phones is mostly uncharted frontier because of technology limitations – but still there’s enough content out there parents can find objectionable. Most of the parental controls deal with limiting a child’s access to explicit music and videos and mitigating technological “stranger danger.”

Below, MainStreet investigates what parental controls are available from cell phone companies and what it’s going to cost mom and dad:

SPRINT (S)
At no cost, parents can restrict their child’s Web browsing access to about 100 sites that are suitable for all audiences, such as Nick.com, CartoonNetwork.com, Weather.com, and Google, says a Sprint spokesperson. Restricting Web access is available on all phones and on all service plans. Sprint also allows parents to restrict certain incoming and outgoing numbers.
Cost: Free

T-MOBILE
On certain plans, T-Mobile’s Web Guard feature will filter content without charge. T-Mobile’s Web site lists all the categories that will be "completely restricted" using Web Guard: abortion, lifestyle, violence, alcohol, mature content, weapons, criminal skills, occult, guns, cults, personals/dating, ammunition, drugs, pornography, firearms accessories, gambling, sex education, knives, hacking, suicide, martial arts, hate, and tobacco. A parent can email T-Mobile to ask that a specific site be unblocked. T-Mobile’s Web site warns, however, that the filtering may not work at certain times or in certain locations.
Cost: Free

VERIZON (VZ)
Most Verizon Wireless phones will filter content like songs that are labeled explicit, as well as certain Web sites. Filtered content is based on a movie-ratings-like basis of children age 7 and up, teens age 13 and up, and young adults age 17 and up. The default setting is no filtering of content whatsoever. Content filtering, as well as blocking text messages and video/picture, can be set online. However, Jeffrey Nelson, spokesman for Verizon Wireless, stresses that the company believes it is a parent’s responsibility to look at their child’s monthly bill and ask questions about Junior’s usage.
Cost: Free.

AT&T (T)
With compatible phones, AT&T will allow parents, without charge, to restrict access to Web content on their wireless Internet access service, Media Net. The company will charge an additional fee per child for use of their Smart Limits service, which enables parents to block numbers from being called or received. A parent can also restrict the time of day that a cell phone can be used, except for 911 and “allowed calls.” (The ATT&T spokesperson deferred to Apple regarding the iPhone’s parental controls.)
Cost: $4.99 per line per month for Smart Limits, free for Media Net controls

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Fortunately for worried parents, currently porn on any type of mobile phones is still "nascent," Buchanan says. But, as more and more phones are becoming smart phones (meaning they have similar capabilities to a personal computer, such as Web browsing, instant messaging, and email), he thinks it could increasingly become an issue for parents to keep in mind for the future. While there are all kinds of parental controls, there’s one way to put your mind at ease that might be startlingly simple: Don’t buy your children a smart phone with a Web browser. "The less fancy the phone, the less they can do with it," he suggests.

 

 

 

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