Cell Phone Parental Controls: A Review of What Wireless Carriers Offer
The Digital Transition and Hearing Aid Compatible Cell Phones
Accessing the Internet with Cell Phones: Getting Started
Cell Phones as International Travel Companions
Cell Phones for All: Accessibility for Those with Hearing Impairment
Cell Phones for An Aging Population:
Current Contenders to Consider
Cell Phones: Text Messaging as a Second Language
Tips for Staying Safe on the Road
Cell Phones with the Most
Parting with Your Cell Phone
The Birth of Cell Phone TV
Cell Phone Insurance: Look Before You Buy
Cell Phone Plans That Make You Go Hmmm
Cell Phone Plans: Consumers Winning the Fight to Switch Without Pain
Cell Phone Plans: When Minutes Count
Cell Phones and Land Lines: Getting the Best of Both Worlds
Committing to a Cell Phone Plan: The Critical First Days
Data Service Plans: Where Your Cell Phone and the Internet Meet
Stopping the Madness of Unwanted Calls and Messages to Your Cell Phone
The Cell Phone: Exceeding Our Expectations
Our Related Articles Elsewhere on the Internet
Shopping for Prepaid Cell Phone Plans
Text Only Plans
Best Cell Phones for Kids
Cell Phones for Seniors
The Best Camera Phones
The Best Music Phones
Cell Phones for the Hearing Impaired
Rugged Cell Phones
Video Camera Cell Phones
International Cell Phones
Increasingly, families are finding it necessary to equip children with cell phones. These handy devices provide a sense of security for parents and allow busy families the communication they need as they head off in opposite directions for work, school, and leisure activities.
There are, however, risks involved in providing kids with such devices. The modern cell phone is often web-enabled, and as we all know, indiscriminate access to the web can often expose young users to inappropriate content. Cell phones also make children more accessible to strangers and potentially to those who would be predators or bullies. The talk time and messaging services used on a cell phone can also rack up a significant expense; and children aren’t always as fastidious as we would like in monitoring their usage. Thus from excessive spending to personal safety, there is cause for parents to attempt to take some control over the cell phone use of their kids.
Obviously a first step is for parents to talk with kids about the rules related to cell phone use; setting limits, prohibiting downloads, discussing how to handle unknown callers and messages, reporting threats, and so forth. Beyond this however is the option of implementing parental controls. Certainly, there is software available for purchase to give parents the upper hand but many cellular carriers now provide parental control features that can be a good first step.
With kid friendly phones such as the Firefly, Wherifone, and LG Migo designed for the youngest kids, parental control is simple. Such phones are not web or video enabled and thus exposure to inappropriate content is virtually non-existent. Such phones also allow calling to and from approved numbers only. These cell phones often offer GPS locator features. Verizon offers the Chaperone service for the LG Migo which allows parents to locate children for $9.99 per month. Parents can set up Child Zones which allow them to be alerted anytime their child enters or leaves such areas.
For those kids who are a bit more mature, the Sprint PCS Vision Phone SCP-2400 offers a more adult type phone with built-in parental controls which allow parents to program the phone book which restricts all incoming and outgoing voice calls. For an added sense of security, parents can also subscribe to the Sprint Family Locator service for $9.99 per month. The service allows parents to locate their kids via any web-enabled phone (a Sprint phone is not required) or a PC. The service does not require subscription to a data plan and also allows parents to set up Safety Checks which automatically notifies them of their child’s location on specific days and times that they set up.
Alltel on the other hand offers Axcess Web Parental Controls which restricts internet access and allows viewing of family-friendly sites only. Their free mobile web content filter effectively eliminates access to inappropriate sites. In addition, Alltel customers can subscribe to the Axcess Family Finder service for $9.99 per month. The service, similar to the Sprint Family Locator program allows parents to locate children easily.
AT&T provides Media Net Parental Controls at no additional charge to their customers. Parents can restrict access to mobile websites with mature content and the ability of children to purchase content such as ringtones, graphics and games. For those hoping to provide added security and control the spending habits of their children, AT&T has the Smart Limits program. For $4.99 per month, parents can set limits on the number of text and instant messages, the amount of money spent for downloads, restrict the times of day the phone can be used for calling, messaging, and web browsing, internet content access, and are able to block certain numbers from incoming and outgoing calls. Once kids reach their limit on these activities, such service is stopped until the next billing cycle. The child can still call and message numbers designated as allowed or contact 9-1-1. The Smart Limits program does not set limits for minutes, picture/video messaging, or internet browsing in general.
T-Mobile offers the kidConnect program which allows parents who are current T-Mobile customers to cap calling. Kids receive 100 Whenever Minutes and unlimited in-network calling for $19.99 per month. Parents can add additional Whenever Minutes as desired. Kids can text by trading Whenever Minutes for text or picture messages. Once the Whenever Minutes for the month are expended, service stops but kids can still call parents, other T-Mobile customers or 9-1-1. The program is available via any T-Mobile plan.
Certainly, current cell phone parental controls do provide parents with some of the tools needed to protect children and to curb exorbitant use. For those desiring more protection a search for commercially available software or perhaps prepaid plans to cap spending might be worthy of consideration.
After February 18, 2008 most major wireless companies will have switched to an all digital network in the US. This switch spelled the end of the oldest US cell phone technology, “Advanced Mobile Phone Services”, otherwise known as AMPS. The newer digital phones which the majority of cellular customers already had, allow services to handle a significantly larger volume of simultaneous calls, provide better voice quality, and give users the ability to transfer data via e-mails, text messages, and so forth.
Unfortunately, these newer phones also use higher frequencies which are more likely to interfere with hearing aids. The interference often creates a buzzing sound, making cell phone signals more difficult to hear. With AMPS disappearing, hearing aid wearers will generally be unable to make use of this lower frequency option any longer.
However, some digital phone models do offer a viable alternative. Determining which cell phone will be a good choice for those wearing a hearing aid has been made easier based on rating systems that have been implemented industry wide.
Here are some considerations:
-- Select a cell phone with an easy to use volume control.
-- Select a phone which allows the backlighting to be turned off, as backlighting itself can create additional interference for anyone using the telecoil setting on their hearing aid.
-- Select a “clam shell” or “flip” phone. These phones provide more distance between the users hearing aid and the transmission components of the cell phone thus reducing interference.
-- Consider a cell phone that offers a built in vibrating alert which is often preferred by those with hearing impairment.
-- Select a cell phone with a high “M” rating. Both cell phones and hearing aids have an “M” (microphone setting) and a “T” (telecoil setting) rating. Users should compare ratings based on which setting they use on their hearing aid while using the cell phone. The higher the rating, the better the device should work with the other. Optimally, a cell phone would have a rating of at least M3/T3 or M4/T4. Shoppers can add the rating of the prospective cell phone to that of their hearing aid to get a combined rating. The preferred combined rating should be 6 or better for satisfactory results.
--For those who use a “T”, telecoil, setting on their hearing aid, a neckloop should be consider which would allow handsfree use in the car, and, would provide the added benefit of creating more distance between the transmission components of the cell phone and the hearing aid itself. Use of the “T” setting on the hearing aid by itself can help to reduce feedback and background noise.