London: A new mobile service will soon give parents control over their children's cellphone use, whom they chat with or text and also allow them to switch off their phones, wherever they are.
Mobile phone company Bemilo is offering the service to parents worried about text bullying, sexting and the disruptive use of phones in schools. It will operate on Vodafone network.
Campaigners say the phone deal, which is intended for children between eight and 16, hands power back to parents. The move follows the Daily Mail's campaign for internet service providers to protect children by automatically blocking access to pornographic content, with adults having to 'opt in' if they want to view sexual material.
Until now, any restrictions on children's mobile phone use have had to be made using the parental control options on the handset itself, the Daily Mail reports.
Parents signed up to Bemilo's system, however, can set restrictions for their child's phone using a web page that only they can access. The site is linked directly to the phone's SIM card, so if a child wants to add a friend as a contact they have to ask the parent, who can then use the website to decide whether or not to allow the change.
All messages that are sent and received by the child can be viewed by the parents by logging on to the site, even if the child deletes them from the phone. Parents can also set a timer so that the phone cannot be switched on during lessons or late at night, for example. However, calls to the parents' phones can be made at all times.
Bemilo founder Simon Goff said: ‘Unlike an app, Bemilo's SIM will work on any mobile device or tablet, and most importantly cannot be bypassed by the child.’