Parental Controls for Cell Phones

Tech allows parents to monitor teens' cell phone use.

ByABC News via logo
December 26, 2008, 8:03 AM

Dec. 26, 2008 — -- The technological leaps cell phones have made in the past few years have given users more power over communication than ever.

And as the "Spiderman" mantra goes, with great power comes great responsibility.

But statistics show that many teens have been exploiting that technology in inappropriate or even dangerous ways, and more parents have looked for ways to monitor their kids' cell phone use.

Luckily for parents, new software is allowing parental control like never before.

According to recent surveys, nearly half of teens say they text while driving, and 20 percent have shared sexually explicit or nude photos of themselves. It's all part of a trend called "sexting."

"If a boy meets a girl or has a girlfriend on summer break, he comes back and shows all his boys the [nude] pictures he's been sent. No one gives it that much thought really," said 17-year-old Matthew Younger.

But teens often don't realize the serious consequences "sexting" can have.

News reports have increasingly documented the legal repercussions after indecent photographs appear online.

And attorneys say there are many unanswered questions about whether young people who send their own photos could face prosecution for obscenity or child pornography.

This year in Wisconsin, a 17-year-old was charged with possessing child pornography after he posted nude pictures of his 16-year-old ex-girlfriend online.

Now new software called Web Safety gives parents unprecedented control over their teens' cell phones.

"Parents can have control of being notified when certain words show up in a text message," Andy Kahan, crime victims director for Houston told "Good Morning America."

The software can alert parents to suggestive language such as "hook up" or "meet up."

GPS technology in cell phones can also allow parents to keep track of a teen's whereabouts and to create "dead zones" where texting can be disabled.

Some phones also allow texting to be disabled in a moving car and alerts parents whenever the cell phone is traveling faster than a certain speed.