UK mobile operator Vodafone has launched an app designed to protect children while using smartphones and to give parents greater control over how their children use such devices.
Vodafone Guardian is available for free in the UK from today and is designed for Android smartphones and Vodafone branded handsets.
Parents can block specific contacts or numbers to prevent cyber bullying texts and calls, while such messages are sent to a secure folder in the phone’s memory so that they can be used by parents or carers as evidence for schools or police.
Outgoing calls can be restricted to a number of individual contacts such as family or specific friends, while parents can specify which times calls can be used or set time limits on certain apps in order to enforce bed time or homework time.
Mobile access and camera use can be restricted at certain times, while a text message is sent to a parent’s phone if the child calls the emergency service. However, calls to child counselling hotlines such as Childline are not recorded in the call log, ensuring confidentiality for the child.
Vodafone says that the app “offers parents a greater degree of control than is available on other smartphones available today” and along with Vodafone’s educational Digital Parenting App, allows parents to keep children safe while allowing them to benefit from many of the advantages of smartphones.
“The smartphone revolution is enormously positive for society, transforming the way millions of people communicate, share and learn. Children and young people have an intuitive understanding of the new world of smartphone communications and the mobile internet,” said Vittorio Coloa, Vodafone Group CEO.
“However, parents who are concerned about the potential risks from cyber-bullying and unsuitable content often lack the tools, support and skills to protect and support their children. The Vodafone Guardian and Digital Parenting apps will empower parents and enhance their ability to share in their children’s digital journey to adulthood.”
In May, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) announced that it had protected over 400 children from online threats last year, while Facebook has been continuously pressured into adopting a child protection button for the UK.
ISPs have been stepping up their security measures in recent times with TalkTalk introducing its HomeSafe security feature which offers parental control for all devices connected to the internet. However in October, Virgin Media, BT, Sky and TalkTalk were forced to deny that new measures designed to protect children from online pornography would affect existing customers.
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