Top 10 Takeaways from AT&T Study of Families Mobile Phone Perceptions

July 10, 2012

To better understand the landscape for families and mobile phones, AT&T commissioned GfK Roper Public Affairs for a national study on parents and children’s (ages 8–17) views.  Among the findings:

  1. On Average, kids receive their first mobile phone at age 12, and 34% get a smartphone.
  2. 53% of kids report that they have ridden with someone who was texting and driving.
  3. 22% say they’ve been bullied via a text message by another kid.
  4. 46% of kids ages 11–17 say they have a friend who has received a message or picture that their parents would not have liked because it was too sexual.
  5. 90% of kids think it’s OK for parents to set rules on how kids use their phone;  66% of kids say they have rules and 92% think the rules are fair (consistent across age groups and types of phone)
  6. If kids had to choose one technology device for the rest of their lives, the majority say they would choose a mobile phone above all else — computer, television, tablet.
  7. 75% of kids think their friends are addicted to phones.
  8. 62% of parents are concerned that they are not able to fully monitor everything their child is doing and seeing on the phone.
  9. 40% of kids with a mobile phone say their parents have not talked to them about staying safe and secure when using the mobile phone.
  10. 58% of parents say that their mobile phone provider offers tools or resources for parents to address issues like overages, safety, security and monitoring.

If you’re among the 38% of parents at a loss as to how to help your children be safer on their mobile phones, see my blog Using Mobile Phones Safely.



Want Increased Control Over online Communications? Consider Wickr

July 9, 2012

If you’re tired of having your personal information, conversations, photos, texts, and video messages exploited by companies, used to embarrass you by frenemies, or pawed over by data collection services, Wickr’s an app worth considering.

The company’s founders have the credentials and the right motivation to build a tool that puts control of your communications squarely – and simply – in your own hands.  Kara Lynn Coppa, is a former defense contractor; Christopher Howell, is a former forensics investigator for the State of New Jersey; Robert Statica, is a director at the Center for Information Protection at the New Jersey Institute of Technology; and Nico Sell, is a security expert and longtime organizer for Defcon, an annual hacker convention.

Responding to questions during an interview, Ms. Sell said, “Right now, everyone is being tracked and traced in ways they don’t understand by numerous governments and corporations,” “Our private communications, by default, should be untraceable. Right now, society functions the other way around.”

Continuing, Ms. Sell said, “If my daughter wants to post a picture of our dog, Max, on Instagram, she shouldn’t have to know to turn the geo-location off,” “People have always asked me ‘How do I communicate securely and anonymously?’ There was never an easy answer, until now.”

Mr. Statica added to this point saying “There is no reason your pictures, videos and communications should be available on some server, where it can easily be accessed by who-knows-who, or what service, without any control over what people do with it.”

Amen to these views.

So what does Wickr offer?

Encrypted messaging – all messages – text, photos, video and audio – sent through the service are secured “by military-grade encryption… They can only be read by you and the recipients on the devices you authorize,” Wickr only stores the encoded result – and only for as long as needed for system continuity.

Self-destruct option – allows you to determine how long the people you communicate with can view the content – text, video, photos – before it is erased. (Recipients can however still capture a screenshot of the content, but the team behind Wickr is looking for ways to notify the sender if a screenshot is taken).

Total phone wipe – one of the risks of recycling cellphones is that you can’t easily erase the phone’s hard drive which enables criminals (and forensic investigators) to recreate your content. Wickr addresses this issue with an anti-forensics mechanism that erases deleted content by overwriting the metadata and rendering indecipherable.

Anonymity on Wickr – the service takes your privacy so seriously they don’t even know your username, you aren’t forced to share your email address or any other personal information that could identify you to the service or to others. Instead, your information is “irreversibly encoded with multiple rounds of salted cryptographic hashing prior to being sent to our servers. Even we cannot determine the actual values based on the hashed values we store.”

Free to use – you might think a service like this could put a hefty price on your privacy, instead the company has chosen to use the “freemium” business model that charges only for premium service features like sending files to large groups or sending large files.

NOTE: I am not associated in any way with this app, nor do I know any of the individuals behind it. While it’s rare I endorse a product, the philosophy behind the service is fabulous, and the tools are something every consumer needs to protect themselves and their privacy.

The next step is for every consumer to demand this same level of respect and security of EVERY online service with whom they interact. 

Want to learn more? Read Wickr’s FAQ



2011; 8 Trillion Text Messages Sent

March 3, 2012

It’s no secret that we can’t live without our cell phones; last year researchers with Telenav found that 22% of smartphone owners said they would rather go a week without seeing their significant other than without checking their apps, 33% would rather give up sex for a week, and 22% would rather go without a toothbrush than without a phone!

Now, a new video by MobileFuture, The 2011 Mobile Year in Review, brings additional highlights – like last year we sent 8 trillion text messages, and we downloaded 1 billion apps EACH Month.  Find it surprising? Spend 2½ minutes to learn a great deal more about our mobile use…

For more interesting info, check out these infographics:


Most Users with Free Android Antivirus Scanners aren’t Protected

November 30, 2011

Many free AV apps exist for the Android market but new comparisons by AV-TEST, a globally recognized security institute out of Germany, uncovered sobering security failures when they took the AV products through their paces.

The products to come out best were for-pay services from “Kaspersky and F-Secure, which detected at least 50% of all malware samples already in inactive state.”

Among the free options “Zoner AntiVirus Free was best with 32% detected malicious apps. All other scanners detected at best 10% of the apps; some didn’t detect anything at all.” Commenting on the results AV-Test said, ‘the circulation of obviously near to useless security apps endangers those, who trust them.’

AV-TEST’s test results are shocking, particularly as the advice given by security experts is that all smartphone users need anti-malware software in place. Yet those who diligently installed one of these free programs, has an entirely false sense of security.

The program with the lion’s share of installations is Antivirus Free by Creative Apps who, along with GuardX Antivirus and LabMSF Antivirus beta, failed to identify any malware in either the manual or real-time on installation scan.

Not only should these ineffectual products be purged from the Android market, there should be a howl of protest from consumers insisting that apps claiming to protect consumers actually do so – and be required to show how well they protect in their descriptions.

Below are two tables from the research, click here to read the entire report.


New McAfee Infographic Highlights Perils of Losing Your Mobile Phone

February 17, 2011

If a picture paints a thousand words, then this infographic beats an essay  hands down.…. What are you doing to protect your phone? And while we’re on the topic, how much to you know about protecting your kids while they’re on their phones? Learn more about Child Cell Phone Safety.


Look Who’s Texting… 0-12yr olds Send/Receive 1,178 Texts a Month; Plus Do You Know Which Apps they Use?

January 17, 2011

We know teens text constantly, but new data from The Nielsen Company suggests their younger siblings (ages 0-to- 12) are catching up.  Sending and receiving an average of 1,178 texts a month, these tykes are positioned to vie with the 18-24 year-olds for second place in text volumes as seen in the table below.

Gender places an additional burden on female fingers as females are 29% more likely to text according to the report.

This explosion in texting comes on top of voice minutes which have remained relatively stable averaging roughly 600- 700 hundred minutes per month between January 2005 and September 2010.

Over this same time period, the use of text messaging shot up from less than 100 a month to more than 600 by the end of 2010. (figures based on MarketingCharts analysis of Nielsen chart).

Nielsen’s data also highlights some other key US Mobile trends:

  • Top 5 cell phones:  Apple iPhone 3GS, Samsung SCH-U450, Motorola Droid, RIM Blackberry 8500 series, and Apple iPhone 4
  • 31% of mobile subscribers have smartphones
  • There are 228 million mobile phone users age 13 and up
  • 36% of mobile subscribers access the internet ( 83.2 million mobile phone web users)
  • 27 – is the average number of apps that smartphone users have on their phones
  • The top 5 mobile video channels are YouTube, Fox, Comedy Central, ESPN, and MTV.

In addition to Nielsen’s findings that the average smartphone has 27 apps downloaded onto it, comes data from Juniper Research that highlights where the expansion of mobile content categories is likely to go – in user generated content, mobile TV, adult content and gambling. (See my blog Mobile Revenues in North America Projected to Jump to $10 Billion by 2015 for more information.

What does this mean for parents?

Increased mobile activity requires increased mobile supervision, and guidance. It’s critical that you talk to your kids about responsible, respectful mobile phone use – including the times of day it’s appropriate to use the phone, and the types of activities you will or won’t allow – including the applications you find appropriate and the number you are willing to pay for.

I’ve written a guide to Using Mobile Phones Safely that can help you consider each feature of your child’s phone and the guidelines and safeguards you feel will be appropriate for these.

If you haven’t already adopted mobile safeguards for your children’s phones, it may be time to consider what family safety protections you may need (often referred to as parental controls). Several family safety companies have tools in place today, and most are ramping up their mobile services even further to meet youth’s needs for protection against malicious users, and inappropriate content.

What this may mean to your phone bill

As part of your conversation with kids and teens, an understanding of the number of text messages they want to send, or are allowed to send, is important to avoiding bill-shock. Families whose youngsters have just began texting, but who did not have a texting plan in place have received phone bills for thousands of dollars.  While there is now federal review of carriers practices, currently this is up to you to monitor. (See my blog Cell Phone ‘Bill Shock’ Remedy; To Little? Too Much? To Early to Tell for more on this issue).

For more information on youth and mobile texting, see my blog Average US Teen Sends or Receives 3,339 Texts a month.


Growing up without a cell phone!! OH NO!!!

September 8, 2010

Unfortunately, the author of this piece is unknown, but what a piece it is….. Note: there is mild profanity.

When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were. When they were growing up; what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning…. Uphill… Barefoot…BOTH ways… yadda, yadda, yadda

And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in hell I was going to lay a bunch of crap like that on my kids about how hard I had it and how easy they’ve got it!

But now that I’m over the ripe old age of thirty, I can’t help but look around and notice the youth of today. You’ve got it so easy! I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a damn Utopia! And I hate to say it, but you kids today, you don’t know how good you’ve got it!

I mean, when I was a kid we didn’t have the Internet. If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the damn library and look it up ourselves, in the card catalog!!

There was no email!! We had to actually write somebody a letter – with a pen! Then you had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox, and it would take like a week to get there! Stamps were 10 cents!

Child Protective Services didn’t care if our parents beat us. As a matter of fact, the parents of all my friends also had permission to kick our ass! Nowhere was safe!

There were no MP3’s or Napsters or iTunes! If you wanted to steal music, you had to hitchhike to the record store and shoplift it yourself!

Or you had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio, and the DJ would usually talk over the beginning and @#*% it all up! There were no CD players! We had tape decks in our car. We’d play our favorite tape and “eject” it when finished, and then the tape would come undone rendering it useless. Cause, hey, that’s how we rolled, Baby! Dig?

We didn’t have fancy crap like Call Waiting! If you were on the phone and somebody else called, they got a busy signal, that’s it!

There weren’t any freakin’ cell phones either. If you left the house, you just didn’t make a damn call or receive one. You actually had to be out of touch with your “friends”. OH MY GOD !!! Think of the horror… not being in touch with someone 24/7!!! And then there’s TEXTING. Yeah, right. Please! You kids have no idea how annoying you are.

And we didn’t have fancy Caller ID either! When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was! It could be your school, your parents, your boss, your bookie, your drug dealer, the collection agent… you just didn’t know!!! You had to pick it up and take your chances, mister!

We didn’t have any fancy PlayStation or Xbox video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics! We had the Atari 2600! With games like ‘Space Invaders’ and ‘Asteroids’. Your screen guy was a little square! You actually had to use your imagination!!! And there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen… Forever! And you could never win. The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died! Just like LIFE!

You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on! You were screwed when it came to channel surfing! You had to get off your ass and walk over to the TV to change the channel!!! NO REMOTES!!! Oh, no, what’s the world coming to?!?!

There was no Cartoon Network either! You could only get cartoons on Saturday Morning. Do you hear what I’m saying? We had to wait ALL WEEK for cartoons, you spoiled little rat-finks!

And we didn’t have microwaves. If we wanted to heat something up, we had to use the stove! Imagine that!

And our parents told us to stay outside and play… all day long. Oh, no, no electronics to soothe and comfort. And if you came back inside… you were doing chores!

And car seats – oh, please! Mom threw you in the back seat and you hung on. If you were lucky, you got the “safety arm” across the chest at the last moment if she had to stop suddenly, and if your head hit the dashboard, well that was your fault for calling “shot gun” in the first place!

See! That’s exactly what I’m talking about! You kids today have got it too easy. You’re spoiled rotten! You guys wouldn’t have lasted five minutes back in 1980 or any time before!

The Over 30 Crowd

To this list, I imagine most of us can add a few more, but it’s an entertaining walk down memory lane.