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Call for nationwide youth text monitoring

Published: 12:49PM Friday April 13, 2012 Source: ONE News

The developer of a software programme to monitor youth cellphone use is calling for the country's major telcos to roll the technology out nationwide.

The call comes after a string of text bullying cases in New Zealand, including a recent case in which two Nelson teens were suspended from school for texting sexual images of a classmate.

Software developer Sally Rae told TV ONE's Breakfast the technology "is not spying", but is a tool for parents to monitor their children's socialising and create greater conversation.

The technology allows parents to monitor the time and content of texts, the numbers and time of calls and the websites visited.

The programme also uses satellite positioning technology to track the movements of the phone and its owner.

The MyFone software has been available since last year, but is currently only available on Android smart phones.

"What we are trying to do is give parents the ability to open up conversation with the children and actually talk to them about the technology as it develops and how to handle that appropriately," said Rae.

Rae is now calling for telcos to get behind the cause in order for it to be available on all cellphones to target younger children and more effectively promote safe technology use.

"Then you can start developing the good technology use at a really early age, so that by the time they get to be 15-year-olds, hopefully they are making wiser choices."

'Kids will get around it if they need to'

NetSafe development manager Sean Lyons said he thought the technology was a good idea, but that it was "by no means a silver bullet".

Lyons said it would only solve part of the problem of bullying and safe internet use.

"Kids will get around it if they need to. For the very young kids, I think it's a really good idea, it stops that accidental process," he said.

"If you are thinking that your 15-year-old will be kept safe by monitoring their activity in any way, you're dreaming."

Rae estimated it to cost $200,000 to get it located on telcos in New Zealand.

The technology allows parents to monitor the time and content of texts, the numbers and time of calls and the websites visited.

The programme also uses satellite positioning technology to track the movements of the phone and its owner.

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