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Parents reject school cell phone bans in U.S.
Posted: 28-Aug-2006 [Source: ACE*COMM]

[Survey supports parents want to control their children's cell phone use mainly for reasons of scheduling and safety.]

Gaithersburg, MD -- When it comes to controlling cell phones in the classroom, most American parents think forbidding children from bringing cell phones onto school property is an extreme measure. A recent survey by ACE*COMM Corporation reveals that, instead of having schools set the rules on cell phone behaviour, 95 percent of parents prefer to be the ones in control of their child's cell phone use.

Scheduling and safety concerns are the main reasons why parents want their children to have access to cell phones during school hours. Of the parents polled:

* 99 percent want to be able to contact their child and have their child contact them via cell phone in an emergency.

* 99 percent want their child to be able to contact them by cell phone if an unsafe situation arises on the way to or from school.

* 84 percent want to be able to contact their child and have their child contact them via cell phone during school hours if there's a change in schedule.

* 71 percent of parents say their child needs a cell phone at school because school administrators won't allow them to use the office phone except in case of illness or emergency.

Even though parents want their children to have access to cell phones at school, they aren't blind to the distractions the devices can create in the classroom. According to the survey, 66 percent are concerned about their children overusing text messaging or cell phones instead of focusing on school or homework. Parents are also worried about their kids using cell phones to cheat at school, but more so for boys than girls. Thirty-nine percent of parents of boys are concerned about cheating on tests by text messaging or cell phone, which is significantly higher than the 31 percent of parents of girls.

To facilitate the appropriate use of cell phones, parents agree that school boards should be exploring alternatives to a ban on cell phones. Eighty-six percent of parents would like their school or school board to work with their cell phone provider to give students access at school to their cell phones with predetermined limitations. Seventy-five percent also agree that their cell phone provider should offer a feature which allows them to limit their child's cell phone use at school.

"Clearly, parents want to have the option of sending their kids to school with cell phones. Whether it's to ensure they know about football practice being cancelled or an emergency situation, they want to keep the lines of communication open," said Chris Couch, Chief Marketing Officer for ACE*COMM. "At the same time, parents have concerns and want to be in charge of controlling their child's usage. That's why ACE*COMM is offering Parent Patrol(TM) to mobile service providers as a tool for parents who want to take charge of their child's cell phone use."

Parent Patrol(TM) enables parents to monitor and set limits on their child's phone use by setting boundaries on numbers called, time of day, number of minutes used, and services accessed (for example, text messaging), all as part of their family service bundle. These restrictions can be applied once or dynamically changed over an easy-to-use Web interface. Always-allow and never-allow features enable exceptions, such as permitting calls to and from parents at all times, or barring unwanted callers. This means parents can control how their children are using their cell phones in the classroom, while also ensuring that children have access to their phone services for permitted activities. Unlike the mobile handsets now being marketed directly to young children, Parent Patrol(TM) can be used with any regular cell phone. Parent Patrol(TM) also features capabilities for blocking mobile access to inappropriate content such as porn.

The online survey, conducted for ACE*COMM by Itracks, polled 1000 parents of children between the ages of 12 and 17 from across the United States, and is considered to be accurate to within 3%, 19 times out of 20. The survey was conducted between August 11th and August 18th, 2006.

Other key findings from the survey:

* 33 percent of parents are concerned about their child being exposed to inappropriate content over the Internet via cell phone.

* 41 percent of parents are concerned about their child being exposed to sexual predators via text messaging, while 31 percent are concerned about exposure to mobile bullying or harassment.

* 78 percent of parents think it is reasonable to give a child a cell phone at the age of 14 or younger.

* 59 percent of parents would provide a cell phone to a child under the age of 12 if their cell phone provider offered easy-to-use parental control capabilities.

About Parent Patrol(TM)

More and more, families are providing their children with mobile phones for safety and security. But many parents want to place limits on how those phones are used. Parent Patrol(TM) from ACE*COMM lets parents define limitations and restrictions on the mobile phones included in their family plan service bundle. For example, they can limit their child's mobile usage to specific hours - such as between 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM. Or they can block text messaging (SMS) during school hours. In all cases they can program exceptions, such as calls to or from parents. Calls to emergency services are never blocked. Restrictions can be customized for each child on the plan, and changes are easy to make via password-protected Web pages.

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