New mobile phone gives parents 'total control'
A MOBILE telephone service which allows parents to read their children’s text messages, control who they add as contacts and remotely switch their phone off has been developed.
The safety system gives adults total control over a mobile phone via a computer, and is intended to protect children aged eight to 16.
The telephone, developed by company Bemilo, is said to be aimed at worried parents, who fear their children may access unsuitable material on their personal handsets.
Until now, they have been reliant on safety settings on the phones themselves, which critics claim are confusing and not readily accessible.
The Bemilo system, which will be run on network Vodafone, claims to allow mothers and fathers to control settings using a specific webpage only they can adapt.
The site is understood to be linked directly to the phone’s SIM card, meaning all text messages transfer automatically to be read – whether they are deleted or not.
It also allows parents to vet potential “friends” before they are added as contacts, and set up a strict timer for the phone to be switched on.
The phone can be linked with a parents’ mobile so they can be contacted at all times.
The SIM card, which is pay as you go, is available today, with the parental control service costing £2.95 a month.
Simon Goff, founder of Bemilo, said: “Unlike an app, Bemilo’s SIM will work on any mobile device or tablet, and most importantly cannot be bypassed by the child.”
Katherine Rake, chief executive of the Family and Parenting Institute, told the Daily Mail parents had wanted “something like this for a very long time”.
She said: “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.”
But Nick Pickles, from privacy group Big Brother Watch, told the newspaper: “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.”