AT&T Unveils New Parental Control Feature for Wireless Service

By: CNN Money
By: CNN Money

AT&T Inc. announced Sept. 4, an innovative new Web-based feature that allows parents to stay in touch with their children while controlling the children's mobile phone use.

AT&T Smart Limits for Wireless(TM) is a feature-rich service that allows a parent to set usage limits on a child's talk time, text messages, instant messages (IMs) and downloads, manage how and when a child can communicate, restrict access to mobile Web sites and allocate minutes among users of shared wireless plans.

AT&T Smart Limits for Wireless is the latest addition to the AT&T Smart Limits(TM) program, an initiative designed to bring together information about parental control features across AT&T's wireless, wired, broadband and video services.

AT&T Smart Limits for Wireless helps parents protect children from inappropriate calls, texts and Internet content by allowing parents to block numbers they deem inappropriate and filter access to content inappropriate for children on their child's phone. Parents also have the flexibility to go online and change the limits at any time.

"AT&T Smart Limits for Wireless enables parents to provide their children with the safety and convenience of wireless service while setting sensible boundaries for its use," said David Christopher, chief marketing officer for AT&T's wireless unit. "AT&T Smart Limits for Wireless gives parents peace of mind in knowing they will be able to keep in touch with their children but will avoid unexpected overage charges on their bill."

With AT&T Smart Limits for Wireless online service, customers can:

-- Limit the number of minutes that their children can use a wireless
phone.
-- Set limits on text and instant messages.
-- Establish a dollar amount for download purchases, such as ringtones and games
-- Control the time of day and days of the week that the phone can be
used.
-- Block calls and text messages to/from numbers they don't approve.
-- Filter access to Internet content that is inappropriate for children.

Calls and text messages to and from numbers designated as "Allowed Numbers" and calls to 9-1-1 are permitted regardless of restrictions to allow families to keep in touch.

By collaborating with children to set sensible limits for using a wireless phone, parents can help their child learn how to manage calling and messaging habits and work within a budget.

When children near the established usage limit for any of their wireless capabilities (minutes, text/IM or downloads), they receive a warning notice. Once a limit is reached, the service will be restricted.

"AT&T Smart Limits for Wireless is another way AT&T is integrating services and features to help customers manage content delivery across any of their devices and decide what is appropriate for their family," said Christopher.

Results of a recent AT&T survey revealed that 84 percent of consumers believe parental controls and safety tools are extremely or very important in keeping children safe while they use today's entertainment and communications technologies.

Nearly one-third (31 percent) of those adults do not feel that they have adequate knowledge of how to use those tools to protect children from today's threats.

"Children have more tools to communicate than ever before and need to learn to use them responsibly," said Stephen Balkam, CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute. "AT&T Smart Limits for Wireless gives parents the ability to limit their children's use of text messages and teach them to use their phones more responsibly.

Just as important, parents can sensibly control their children's wireless access and protect their children from unwanted calls and messages."

AT&T Smart Limits for Wireless is available for $4.99 a month for each line for AT&T wireless consumers who subscribe to a new or existing postpaid rate plan. No special handset is required.


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