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A smart way to keep kids safe on their mobiles


Posted on November 5, 2012

3 min read

In June Telstra stopped the sale of a cyber-safety service called ‘Smart Controls’ after customers expressed concerns about the way data was collected.

This cyber-safety tool is designed to allow adults to choose the website categories kids in their care can access — along with other features.

We got the design of this component wrong and in the process we disappointed our customers.

Many customers have told us that, in principle, they thought the product was a good idea. Parental control software is broadly available for fixed internet services but Australian parents have few options for protecting their kids when they’re on smartphones.

However, many other customers told us that they did not want the network practices used to categorise websites for such a product applied to their mobile service if they had not opted in to the Smart Controls service.

We have now re-designed Smart Controls so that it operates as an entirely opt-in product. Customers must opt in and the mobile websites being classified are only from subscribers who opt in or subscribe to the service.

We’re seeking your views about introducing this revised product in late November. We are speaking to customers, government, consumer groups and child protection organisations to ensure we transparently explain our plans and how the revised product operates — this blog is part of this process. So if you have any questions about how this revised product is intended to operate, please feel free to ask us here.

The Smart Controls cyber safety management tool is designed to complement regular parental involvement in kids’ use of mobile phones by encouraging safe and responsible behaviour.

It allows parents to:

  • Block unwanted calls or callers – Manage a list of numbers kids can call, or be called by on their phone.
  • Set up a safe list of numbers and websites – Choose numbers and websites which can always be accessed, even when other calls or content categories are restricted.
  • Manage time spent online and making calls – Place time of day limits on web browsing and phone calls so they can better monitor kids’ use of technology
  • Choose the web content which can be accessed – Smart Controls allows parents to remotely prohibit access to mobile internet content such as adult or gambling websites or, alternatively, allow access to educational sites only.

Update, 29 November
Thanks everyone for your questions and feedback. Over past weeks we’ve discussed the re-design with many of you — along with a range of stakeholders. As a result of this process we have decided to introduce Smart Controls on an opt-in basis for our consumer mobile customers. We plan to start offering it next week. We hope it’s a useful tool for parents who are developing their kids’ digital skills and who regularly involve themselves in their kids’ use of the internet.

Tags: cyber safety,