Mobile networks have taken technical steps to assist parents in protecting children from accessing adult or inappropriate content. In addition, WASPA, the local industry association, has set up procedures to allow consumers to lodge complaints about mobile services and SMS spam.

The mobile industry has implemented steps that allow parents (or guardians) to block access to adult content on their child's cell phone. Vodacom's technical tool will enable you to block attempts to access adult content via a cellphone. MTN offers a parental control feature that blocks access to any mobile content. Cell C, however, needs a technical solution to assist parents in protecting their children from access to adult or other mobile content.

Vodacom's Measures to Protect Children from Accessing Mobile Adult Content

All Vodacom contract subscribers can access adult content from their cell phones. Nevertheless, Vodacom allows parents to block adult content (including age-classified content) from receiving it on their child's cell phone. Parents can bar their children from accessing adult content by dialing *111*123# from the cell phone they want to block.

A person can only unblock a cellphone by going to a Vodashop or a Vodacom Service Provider outlet and verifying that they are old enough to receive age-restricted content.

If a child attempts to access adult or age-restricted content on a blocked cellphone, they will get an access denied message on their screen. The news will read: "The page you are trying to access may contain material of an adult nature. You have access controls in place to block content of this type." However, it should be noted that while all mobile networks and known adult Internet sites are blocked, not all WASP subscription services may be blocked.

By default, all Vodacom prepaid customers will be barred from accessing adult content. All prepaid customers must verify their age and opt-in to receive adult content. Only users who are 18 years or older will be allowed to access off-net content. Users can view content unsuitable for people 16 years or older without having to opt-in or verify their age. Users will only receive warning screens which are more of a self-authorization page. The warning should read: "The following content is only suitable for customers aged 16 years or over. By selecting CONTINUE, you confirm that you are 16 years or over."

Click here for more information about Vodacom's adult content management feature that restricts the content children can access through their cell phones.

MTN's Measures to Protect Children from Accessing Mobile Content

Customers can block one or all mobile content: adult content, gaming, gambling, or anonymous/un-moderated chat services.

To block access to selected content, a parent needs to dial *101# from the handset, select the range that needs to be barred, creates a PIN number, and input your (the parent's) cellphone number to receive updates on changes to the settings and PIN number.

Whenever any MTN subscriber accesses content/sites, a check is made whether there are any restrictions based on the Parental Control setting for that individual. If restricted, the subscriber will see the message: 'Yello, Your Mobile Content Access Profile does not allow you access to the site. Please dial *101# to change your profile.'

If a subscriber comes across a site hey feel should be included in the barred database, they can ask MTN to assess the content and have it in the database if required.

MTN has a parental control feature to restrict the type of content children can access through their cell phones. Click here for more information on MTN's service.

Cell C And Virgin Mobile's Measures

At the time of writing, Cell C and Virgin Mobile do not publicize on their websites measures to block access to adult or other mobile content from a cellphone on their network.