Today, America’s largest wireless carrier AT&T will reportedly launch a service that allows parents to limit how many minutes their child can spend talking away on the mobile phones; how many text messages they can send or receive, and how much can be spent on ringtones and games.
According to Carlton Hill, vice-president of voice products for AT&T’s wireless unit and the mother of two teenagers, “We were certainly hearing from parents who were dismayed at overuse of text or phones. We want to find a way for kids to use phones without having to take the phone away.”
Called the AT&T Smart Limits plans, this service will be offered simply as an add-on for just $4.99 per month per line. In this case, no contract with AT&T is required. This plan will continue to work on all plans except a handful of customer lines that are left on an old network that AT&T is currently phasing out.
On one hand, parents do want their children to have access to mobile phones mainly for safety reasons. But on the other hand, they also do not want their child making or receiving non-emergency calls during the course of a school day. After all, it’s understood that when you put a mobile phone into the hand’s of your teenage child, he or she is bound to chat away all the shared family-plan minutes or even send text messages like there’s no tomorrow!
The Functions of the AT&T Smart Limits plan range from call blocking and hour limits to text message and download allowances. These functions will be set through a Web site that will be rolled out today as well.
Calls to or from a parent’s number can be made to override the restrictions, and calls to 911 can be made anytime.
The limitations of this service are that the Web site filter could be rendered inoperable when a phone is using a Wi-Fi network because AT&T is only able to block content delivered over its wireless networks.
Secondly, according to AT&T spokesman Fletcher Cook, the new AT&T service will not work on Apple’s iPhone solely due to the browser.
The Smart Limits service will be marketed to AT&T’s existing family plan customers and through advertising in parent magazines, Hill said, but because it is available throughout the AT&T network, the service can also be used by business customers or individuals looking to block and limit certain callers or hours of incoming calls.
This news sounds straight out of a teenage nightmare. But, such regulations imposed by parents are any day better than the confiscation of their mobile phones altogether. Chatty teens are so not going to like this one.