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Empowering Parents and Protecting Children in an Evolving Media Landscape

For those of you who have children like me, we don’t need studies to tell us that our kids are increasingly using their mobile devices for everything from sending a text to updating their social network profiles. 

A couple of weeks ago, we filed comments  to the FCC highlighting the role wireless plays in empowering parents and protecting children in an evolving media landscape. Our kids need to be prepared for an increasingly digitized and mobile future. Our industry is already providing and enabling many innovative and beneficial tools for children such as:

  • Communications - Voice calling, voicemail, text messaging, e-mail, photo and video sharing, social networking, blogs.
  • Safety - Access to emergency and public safety services and related safety information, campus safety, access to Wireless AMBER Alert™ notifications.
  • Education – Access to thousands of educational apps, including language and literacy programs, educational games, and downloadable books. Mobile broadband access also enables enhanced classroom learning through mobile assignments and electronic scheduling, real-time polling and feedback, classroom blogs and photography projects, language learning exercises, lecture recording and podcasting, expanded scientific research options, and remote/distance learning opportunities.
  • Health - Access to health care information, nutrition and fitness apps, child health and prenatal care apps, “pillbox” reminders, chronic disease assistance.
  • Accessibility - Text-to-speech, voice activation, closed captioning, text and instant messaging applications, predictive text, word completion and spell check, customizable font and user interface features, alternate entry devices, TTYs, adaptive keyboards, screen readers, magnifiers, translators.
  • Civic Participation/Skills Development - Access to documents and information about historical people and issues, information about the branches of government, political campaign information, general news and information sources, job training, content creation.

While mobile technology offers many benefits for children, we also recognize that some kids may use the technology in an irresponsible or harmful manner. Protecting children online and in mobile environments is a challenging task for everyone – especially parents. In addition to numerous parental controls and tools from wireless carriers, CTIA and The Wireless Foundation have introduced a series of initiatives, such as Get Wise About Wireless, to educate parents, teachers, and kids about responsible and safe mobile use. 

As CTIA and the wireless industry continue to prepare America’s youth for an increasingly digitized mobile future, we believe the FCC can help in this process by:

  • Taking inventory of other government agencies and the private sector related to educating children on mobile media literacy and responsible online practices, and encourage and assist schools, libraries and other stakeholders to participate in that education process.
  • Seeking opportunities to coordinate with government efforts (wherever possible), building on its recent cooperation with the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Education in developing the Net Cetera online safety guidebook for parents. 
  • Coordinating with other agencies to encourage schools to review and update their existing technology policies to integrate mobile technologies and educational applications.
  • Highlighting the use of mobile devices as an additional platform for communicating with students.
  • Working together with other federal and state agencies to encourage librarians and teachers to utilize handheld devices and digital downloads to expand the reach of school libraries.
  • Modifying the E-Rate and Lifeline and Link-Up programs to maximize opportunities for wireless broadband and mobile applications that otherwise fit within the scope of those programs.

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