New service Bemilo lets parents read their kids’ textsDale Wright
Mobile phone bullying has become a big problem for children and teens, and a simple smartphone in a child’s hands can be a parent’s worst nightmare. Kids aren’t always willing to reveal what they’ve been up to on their smartphones, but a new service could solve that problem.
Bemilo is a new mobile phone carrier that tracks all text messages that are sent and received and copies them to an online web portal. It’s the first service of its kind to hit the UK mobile market. Parents can log on and check up on their kids’ texting, disable their phone, limit the phone to being used at certain times of the day or control the credit on the account. If the child runs out of credit, they can still call their parents for free.
The child can’t get around the technology – in theory. Presumably if they know how to change a SIM card, they could buy one and swap SIMs while their parents aren’t looking, although younger children are unlikely to – and this is the age group Bemilo is aimed at. The Bemilo SIM also doesn’t track anything other than texts, so it wouldn’t track and SMS apps, or (presumably) iMessage, if your child is lucky enough to have an iPhone. It also doesn’t provide any BlackBerry services at all.
The Bemilo PAYG service is priced in a similar way to most mobile phone services and piggybacks on the Vodafone network, so the coverage is solid. The text tracking costs an extra £3 a month if paid annually, or £4 a month on a rolling basis. The company say that their aim is to wipe out online bullying, although some parents will undoubtedly use the service to keep a more general eye on what their kids are talking about.
What do you think about Bemilo: a handy way to stay safe or an unfair way to snoop?