Teens and Sexting
If you are unfamiliar with the term, sexting refers to sending sexually explicit content between cell phones or other digital devices. This may include text, images, or video. This practice is particularly disturbing when it occurs between teenagers. There is little parents can do about the practice other than removing texting plans from the teens’ phones. In response to this, Apple submitted a patent two years ago that has finally been approved.
The patent does not actually use the word “sexting”, instead describing the issue of children receiving text communications that contain objectionable content. It boils down to parental controls. Many parents are familiar with such controls as used on a computer to block children from accessing web sites that may contain content categorized as “adult” or offensive.
Of course, teenagers are masters of working around obstacles. Teens will likely use the trick mastered by email spammers to evade spam filters: Misspelling. By misspelling words on purpose or using textspeak alternatives, teens may try to defeat the dictionary on the device. The new patent will work to defeat those who try those tactics.
Invasion of Privacy
Teens will probably balk at the amount of control given to the account holders (parents). The parents will be able to receive an alert when a text that contains “unauthorized” content is attempting to be sent from their teen’s phone. The teen may receive a prompt to replace the objectionable text or the entire text may be deleted. Another option allows parents to have texts that are deemed inappropriate to be rerouted to the parent’s phone.
Feasibility of Sexting Elimination?
The big question is whether Apple’s little application will actually work. As with most other forbidden things, teenagers will likely find a way to deceive the software. Even though the patent says it will work to defeat deception, teens can rapidly create new ways to beat the system. They come up with new text slang terms every day. How can an app keep up with it? Also, there does not appear to be any kind of filter for sending nude or offensive pictures. Will teens simply resort to that?
Will You Use It?
This is a feature that is user-enabled, meaning that the user chooses whether or not to implement its use. Parents may choose to use it for their children and employers may choose to use it for business cell phones used by employees. However it is offered, it will not be mandatory. It is the users’ choice.