A recent study by OFCOM (the Independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries) revealed that 25 per cent of children don't know how they would react if they stumbled across inappropriate material on their mobile phone. The good news? All mobile phone providers now offer parental control services free-of-charge, so you won't have to pay a hefty service fee in order to protect your children against inappropriate material online.
Mobile phone technology: The risks
Age-appropriate content: The web has features aimed at both adults and children, and it can be tricky maintaining a clear division between the two so that your children only come into contact with suitable online content.
Uninvited content:Bluetooth technology has opened the floodgates as far as unsolicited content is concerned. This means that your child's mobile may well be repeatedly bombarded with unwanted advertisements, as well as content from 3rd parties.
Image sharing facilities: It's great to share photos and videos online, but in the wrong hands visual media can be misappropriated. Discuss the risks with your child, to make certain that they recognized the dangers associated with uploading such material to the internet. Take a look at the advisory website created by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Association for more information.
Third party contact: Chatrooms can be great fun, but they often cause parents a great deal of stress and worry. Responsible chatroom usage is really just a matter of making your child aware of the risks. Take a look at Chatdanger for more details.
Social networking: Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, and MySpace are all great websites, provided that they are used in a responsible manner. If your child is wasting too much time on social networking sites, downloading links from untrustworthy sources, or accepting friendship requests from unknown entities, it may be time to re-assess their networking privileges online.
Protecting your children: a step-by-step guide for creating parental controls on mobile phones
Step 1: Check your mobile services provider
While all mobile phone operators offer parental controls, not all providers automatically have the controls switched on as part of the established default settings. Get in touch with your provider to check what the default settings are, and to find out how to go about re-activating them if they are deactivated.
Take a look at this OFCOM guide for further information about parental controls and mobile phone operating companies.
Step 2: Select your mobile phone operator from the list below and follow their instructions
Step 3: Discuss the controls with your child and negotiate privileges
Parental control settings don't need to be permanent: To get the most out of the software, use it to award your child privileges in return for instances where you feel they have behaved responsibly.
You can find out more information on how to keep your children safe online at http://www.knowhow.com/kidsafe.aspx and wherever you see the Click Clever Click Safe logo.