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US firm plays big brother for parents

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3GSM British teenagers are the world’s worst when it comes to misusing their mobile phones.

Almost half of UK teens admit to texting mates while they’re at school while only 30 per cent of German kids admit to doing the same. US and UK teens spend the same amount of time on their mobiles as they spend doing homework while German teens claim to spend 70 minutes more on homework than on their phones.

German teens spend as much time on their phones as doing physical exercise but British teens spend an extra hour on their phones instead of exercising.

Acecomm director of product management and architecture Jonjie Sena said: “One of our respondents said he can text friends without taking the phone out of his pocket so teachers have no idea what is going on. Parents need to be able to control this.”

Acecomm’s service Parent Patrol allows parents to restrict what their child can do with a mobile. The European service was launched today at the 3GSM conference in Barcelona. It has been operating since late last year in the US.

You can set times, like school hours or after midnight, when phone use is restricted. You can limit the number of text messages or voice minutes that can be used in a set period – the worst offender revealed in the survey was a child that sent over 1,000 messages in one month. Data can also be restricted. There is an ‘always allow’ list of numbers which can always be called even if limits have been exceeded. There’s a ‘never allow’ list of permanently blocked numbers.

Acecomm works with two undisclosed partners which certify websites. You can choose what content to block based on simple categories.

Merseyside council Knowsley called for a total ban on mobiles in primary schools and restrictions in secondary schools last month.

Acecomm will soon offer a similar service for control of enterprise mobile phone use.

Sena believes such a system needs to be network-based rather than buying a special child's handset with controls built-in.

The survey questioned 1,000 people aged between 13 and 18 in the US and the same number in the UK and Germany. It was carried out in November and December of last year. ®

More details here.

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