Consumer 10: Cell Phone Companies Offer Programs To Control Teens’ Phone Use


UPDATED: Wednesday August 14, 2013 9:05 AM

Nearly 80 percent of teens now have cell phones.

Consumer 10 looked into some ideas to help parents have a little control over their children’s phones as kids head back to school.

Jill Paul has two rules for her teenage daughter and son when it comes to their cell phones.  

First, no texting at the dinner table.  

"Also, I don't let them take them to bed, because he doesn't really go to sleep.  He'll just sit there and text his buddies all night long," Paul said.

That kind of problem is exactly what Verizon is looking to address with a new cell-phone feature.

"Parents used to be more concerned with what it cost," said Verizon's Laura Merritt. "And now, they're more concerned with ‘What's my kid doing on their phone?’”

The new Verizon FamilyBase service helps parents:

*Monitor wireless usage to prevent overage charges,
*See who is included in their children's contact list,
*View who and when they are calling and texting,
*See what apps they are using and for how long,
*And have the ability to remotely lock their child's phone.

"If junior is insistent on texting while having dinner with the family, mom or dad can remotely lock the phone right from their own device," said Merritt.

The other major carriers offer similar programs - Sprint's is called Mobile Controls. T-Mobile's is known as Family Allowances and AT&T's goes by the name Smart Limits.  
All of them offer parents some control over their child's cell phone.

While many teens might not like the idea of mom and dad having that kind of control, 17-year-old Phaedra Paul said, she gets it.  

"It might be a little intrusive, but if you're abusing your phone privileges, I think parents should have the option to do that," she said.

Consumer 10 reported the cost of these programs varies.  AT&T and Sprint charge $4.99 per phone per month.  T-Mobile charges $4.99 per month for as many lines as are on the account.  Verizon charges $5 a month for up to 10 lines.  

Click here for more information.

ATT's Program | Sprint's Program | T-Mobile's Program | Verizon's Program

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