It was a gleam in some early adopter parents' eyes back in 2004 when I first wrote about phone controls; now a reality. This week AT&T launched a service that might make for a little more cellphone-related family harmony: "Smart Limits" for $4.99 a month. "Many parents want their children to have access to cellphones for safety reasons, but they don't want them making or receiving non-emergency calls during the school day, chatting away all the shared family-plan minutes or bloating the bill with text messaging charges," AT&T told the Associated Press. "The functions, ranging from call blocking and hour limits to text message and download allowances, will be set through a website. Calls to or from a parent's number can be made to override the restrictions, and calls to 911 can be made anytime." Smart Limits also includes filtering if Web access is within the AT&T phone network, though this is no cure-all – just another tool in the parental toolbox (it won't work on an iPhone or when any phone is using a wi-fi hot spot for Web browsing outside the company's network). Here's the Detroit Free Press's coverage, which says about 79% of US 15-to-17-year-olds have cellphones.
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