Apple patents parental controls for texting, 'sexting' a target

Apple was awarded a patent on technologies that would allow for the control of content sent and received to a mobile device, essentially filtering out any objectionable content within text messages. With "sexting" becoming ever more prevalent, a read through the patent which was published online Tuesday has lead some to call it the "anti-sexting" patent.

Parental controls are added to the device, which allows the administrator to choose how content is filtered. The filtering occurs as the message is typed, blocking certain text from being entered before it is sent. It could even be blocked altogether depending on the settings. In any case, the filtering occurs before the text is either sent or received.

Apple filed for the patent, titled "Text-based communication control for personal communication device," in January 2008. The company's senior engineer Michael Lee is credited with the invention.

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"The proliferation of computers and compact portable devices has led to vast amounts of text-based communication," the patent description reads. "One problem with text-based communications is that there is no way to monitor and control text communications to make them user appropriate."

Parents could use it in either one of two ways, Apple says: one for the most obvious use, and that's to prevent sexting. But Apple says the application could also be used to force children to use proper grammar and spelling -- in other words, an attempt at keeping the texting lexicon out of their non-mobile lives.

If the messages fail to meet the set requirements, they could either be prevented from being sent, and even have an alert sent to the parent or guardian that an attempt was made. While it may seem a little too big brother for some, for paranoid parents it might be just what the doctor ordered.

Many may look at such an invention with skepticism as to its practicality, studies show that inappropriate text messages are on the increase. Last year, Pew Researched claimed that as many as 15 percent of those aged 12 to 17 had either sent or received such sexually charged texts.

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