A preventative measure against Text Bullying?

By tonyhughes Hughes, in , posted: 29-Apr-2006 00:56

Worried about giving your kids a cellphone? Concerned about text bullying, either being given, or received by your child? Under pressure to let them have a phone? Heres a possible solution for you.

This article relates to Telecom New Zealand 027 mobiles, but some of the information may be applicable to certain models of Vodafone GSM mobile phones.

After lots of trial and error, and a little help from Orb, Karamu Rd, Hastings, I have solved my problem about how to let my kids text me, their family, and pre-approved (whitelisted) friends, but be totally restricted from texting or calling anyone else.

Unfortunately none of Telecoms current handsets are capable of this, but a lot of older ones are (which means you may be able to do this cheap or free if you have the phone(s) lying around.

This is a complete tutorial on how to set a Kyocera 027 prepaid phone up for a young child, so they cannot access anything but text and/or calling to you, and people you pre-approve. It has been tested and worked for me using a Kyocera Phantom 414G on Telecom New Zealands CDMA 027 network.

This tutorial will work with the following handsets: Kyocera 2135 2235 3245 414G 414C 424C Blade Phantom etc etc (and probably every other Kyocera in existence), and also assumes a basic working knowledge of how to use a cellphone (e.g. SEND / END / scrolling / Selecting ok / Adding contacts).

  1. Obtain a handset listed above (on TradeMe they start from $30 connected on Prepaid), charge it up, buy a $10 prepaid card.
  2. Open the battery cover, and remove the battery. Write down the 11 digit ESN number, put the battery back on.
  3. If the phone is already connected, call *123 from the mobile and ask for WAP to be barred and a PASSWORD PUT ON THE ACCOUNT TO PREVENT CHANGES. now go to step 5. If the phone is not currently connected, go to step 4.
  4. Dial 123 from home or *123 from a mobile to perform the connection, its free and they give you $5 credit too. Press '0' at the prompt, a human will answer, and you just ask "can we connect a prepaid phone that I have here please". You will need to provide the 11 digit ESN number, and the model of the phone. They will provide you a phone number (027), and they will walk you through programming this number into the phone. They say this takes 48 hours, but in most cases, its done in four hours. Also ask for WAP to be barred, and also ask to put a password on the account to prevent unauthorised changes. (WAP is expensive on-phone internet access at $50 a megabyte).
  5. Add the following numbers and names into the contact list - *333 (account balance), 0800323232 (topup number), Your familys mobile and landline numbers, and any emergency contact numbers you want your child to have, you can also add your childs friends mobile numbers now if you wish. Remember, your child cannot call any number not in the contact list.. so you might want to put ALL your family phone numbers in, just in case.
  6. With the phone on, press OK > SETTINGS > OK > SECURITY > OK
  7. At "Enter Lock Code", enter the last four digits of the phone number Telecom just assigned you.
  8. Select LIMIT CALLS > OK > LIMIT OUT > OK > LOCK CODE > OK > OK
  9. Enter the last four digits of the phone number (which is the current lock code), then press OK
  10. Enter a new four digit pin code, known only to you, and one your child wont guess. Display will then show "Lock code", then press CLR > CLR > CLR to return to main screen (or press the red 'END' key).
You now have a phone that can only call pre-approved numbers (you have to enter the pin number in the security menu to add more numbers), and cannot use WAP (which can cost 7c a click, 35c a page or $50 a megabyte). They can recieve texts from ANYONE, and recieve calls from ANYONE.

Dont forget to remember the 4 digit pin for the phone, and the password you gave Telecom. Write these down in a safe location that your children cant access. You will need either one or both to make changes such as switching to a new handset, adding a service, add allowed phone numbers.

If your child comes to you with a request to add a phone number, get the name of the person who has the number, and call them, to make sure that person answers, and perhaps seek out that persons parents to establish that it is a legitimate addition to your childs array of textable friends.

Remember, this cant absolutely stop txt bullying (all incoming texts are allowed), so please, still monitor your childs phone, but at least your child CANNOT text a bully back, unless YOU whitelisted them. A non responsive victim should be of less interest to a text bully.

You should also thoroughly research text bullying, talk with, and educate your child, and not rely soley on anything contained in this article to prevent bullying of your child in any way.

Interestingly I found that the Kyocera 414G (and maybe others) has a built in non-resettable counter for keypresses. Simply enter '111111' (thats six ones), and press OK (NOT SEND), and scroll to "Key Counter" and press ok to see the number of key presses ever made on that phone. The particular phone I found that feature on is up to approx 117,000 key clicks.

More information:

NetSafe: 0508 NET SAFE (0508 638 7233)
Vodafone: 0800 800 021
No Bully: 0800 NO BULLY (0800 66 28 55)

http://www.netsafe.org.nz/mobilephone/bullying_harassment.aspx
http://www.tearaway.co.nz/Article.aspx?PostingID=4086
http://www.telecom.co.nz/content/0,8748,204239-204056,00.html
http://www.vodafone.co.nz/aboutus/VOD2738_responsible_mob_bro.pdf (140kb PDF)
http://www.vodafone.co.nz/aboutus/mobile_safety.pdf (120kb PDF)

I hope you find this information useful. If you have anything to add, including a list of GSM mobiles past and present that are capable of being similarly locked down, please contact me.

Tony Hughes
suchatallguy [at] gmail [dot] com
or more contact details here

My blog (Main page): http://www.geekzone.co.nz/tonyhughes

COPYRIGHT: As with all my writing here, this page is copyright. I give you permission to distribute it and republish it in full and unaltered, and you must credit me as the source, and notify me of when and where it is being published.


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Comment by SNicolle, on 29-Apr-2006 09:53

well done!


Comment by juha, on 29-Apr-2006 10:30

Good stuff, but I wonder how many parents are able to do all that - it probably falls within the realm of "programming the phone". Maybe you should set up a Anti Text Bullying consultancy? :)


Author's note by tonyhughes, on 29-Apr-2006 12:41

I would happily set all this up for anyone in NZ who doesnt feel able to...


Comment by juha, on 29-Apr-2006 15:19

Careful... you may get what you perhaps don't wish for (says I, trying to sort something out for someone here on Saturday, sigh).


Comment by Jerry, on 1-May-2006 19:07

This is nothing new. SIM dependent, you can set Fixed dialling on GSM (Vodafone) mobiles to do a similar thing. You can then switch between using the full phonebook and the fixed (white list) dialling phonebook. Also many GSM mobiles have restrictions you can place on what numbers can be called etc with a phone lock code needed to override.


Comment by Jerry, on 1-May-2006 19:16

This is nothing new. SIM dependent, you can set Fixed dialling on GSM (Vodafone) mobiles to do a similar thing. You can then switch between using the full phonebook and the fixed (white list) dialling phonebook. Also many GSM mobiles have restrictions you can place on what numbers can be called etc with a phone lock code needed to override.


Author's note by tonyhughes, on 1-May-2006 19:24

Im not big on GSM, but can this function control -texting- to contacts only? Or just controlling voice calling. In New Zealand we have a growing problem due to cheap text messaging (free on weekends, or $10 per month for 1000 texts - depending on the network you are on)


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