Apple to employ new parental controls

Apple was recently approved for a patent that will allow users to control texts, allowing stricter parental controls than before.

Apple users now have the option to block objectionable text messages.

A patent filed by Apple Inc. in January 2008 that gives users the ability to contol text messages was approved last month.

Parental controls set filters

According to the patent’s description, messages are filtered based on parental controls, age, education and even grammar. Applications offered will instruct the censor to block any incoming or outgoing messages that include forbidden content, misspelled words, incorrect abbreviations or inappropriate language, images and videos. In addition, it can also be used as an instructional embodiment to include certain requirements in messages. For example, to learn Spanish, it can require a certain number of Spanish words in messages per day.

Parents have varying opinions on using the new controls

Many parents approve the patent and see it as a new way of parenting and protecting their children from inappropriate behavior. However, other parents have been very critical and see it as a way of being overprotective and controlling.

“Personally, I would use it,” intercultural studies and Talbot professor Tom Sappington said. “Although my kids are grown adults now, but as a parent I would also determine when to let go and let them choose for themselves once they are young adults. But that all depends on the type of relation parents have with their kids.”

Junior GinaMarie Schintee had her own advice for parents.

“I would say to a parent who is considering using this program to control their child’s texting to instead sit down and have a conversation with them,” Schintee said.

According to Apple and its supporters, the patent will create a new, safer generation. But those against the patent say it will only make a child grow up paranoid and clueless about the real world.

“Talk to the child about what’s going on and find other ways towards a better solution,” Schintee said. “Kids want open communication with their parents, not more strict rules.”

Many services offer parental controls

Apple is not alone in its efforts to provide parental control. Satellite television offers controls, as do many Internet browsers. Several new phones, like BlackBerry Smartphone, Android, Windows Mobile and iPhone, are now working on installing more parental tools that allow parents to check on their child’s online activity. Some parents, however, have said such a tool is not needed.

“Parents need to build a good relation with their children before relying on tools; if not, children will resent that,” Sappington said. “But you also want to protect your children at some degree.”

Patent specifically prevents “sexting”

Apple intends for the patent to prevent “sexting,” or sexually-explicit messages being sent or received, to make iPhones workplace and school-friendly.

“It’s a great idea,” junior John Fredricks said. “People abused their right [to text] by acting inappropriate with that stuff. Facebook does it. Why not Apple?”

Other students agree that some control is good.

“In one of my political science classes we were talking about a Newsweek article over technology,” political science professor David Peters said. “And when we came to the topic of text messaging and cell phones, the majority of my students said they wouldn’t let their children use cell phones at a certain age because it will cause them to grow up in a bad habit.”

The idea of protecting kids from “sexting” has been an issue that many companies are striving to tackle. With Apple’s patent, any user can decide if they want the application applied to a device or not.

“I believe technology is a good thing, but I realize kids are learning so early. I’m afraid we have allowed it to become a bad habit that they don’t interact with people face-to-face anymore,” Peters said. “But I agree. There need to be rules and restrictions; just like how I used to put a restriction on my children on watching too much TV when they were little.”

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