I field a good number of questions from parents and teachers as a result of my presentations. Sometimes they are from parents who come up at the the end of my presentations and sometimes they come in e-mails days later. I recently got this question from a parent:
"What is available to filter Internet sites that my kids go to on their mobile phones?"
First of all, YES, there is porn and other bad stuff on the mobile phone Internet. Here is a good article from ABC News about it: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/GadgetGuide/story?id=3612541&page=1. Now, let me give you a little technical background. The Internet that people get to from cell phones is not necessarily the same Internet that you access from your computers. There is an entirely separate Internet for mobile devices where companies like Yahoo and Google make sites that look very much like their regular Internet sites but are designed for small screens (however, some of the new mobile devices can actually connect to the regular Internet or the WAP (Wireless Access Protocol - the technical name for the mobile device Internet)). The growing concern is that the mobile device Internet has few mechanisms for filtering out objectionable content.
So back to the question I got from a parent...what should this person do to keep their kids safe while accessing the Internet from their mobile phones? My answer to this parent was actually another question (much to her dismay): "Why do your kids need the Internet on their mobile phones?" Kids have access to the Internet at home, at school, at their friend's houses, at the library, and even many restaurants and coffee shops, do they really need it from their phones too? It's not like they are climbing the corporate ladder and need to remain in touch with key clients. They're kids for Pete's sake. They need to be able to communicate with their parents and their friends and that's it.
It turns out that this poor woman had been "snowed" by her kids. They led her to believe you couldn't do texting on your phone without Internet. UNTRUE! You can't do e-mail on your mobile phone without Internet access but you can certainly make calls and text people all you want.
She was a little surprised and angry that her kids lied to her. I was a little surprised that she didn't just ask the person at the Verizon store about it (you have to stay informed as parents). Save yourself the $30+ a month. If your kids must have a mobile phone, settle for a plan that allows calling and texting and nothing more. Leave the Internet on the computer.
Just my 2 cents.