[2 September 2015] Doing basic parental control of the content available on a mobile phone in South Africa is really simple. Unless you use Cell C or Telkom Mobile, in which case you will need to use a third party provider.

There is really no excuse for not taking this most basic of measures if you are concerned about a child’s use of a mobile phone. We also find it a bit odd that Vodacom and MTN do not publicise the below more.

Vodacom Parental Control

Dial *111*123#

Contract and Prepaid customers can use this. Unblocking the adult content restriction requires physical presence, with proof of age and cannot be done over the phone. The service is free.

Some terms and conditions apply

MTN Parental Control

  1. Dial *101# from the handset you would like to restrict content on
  2. Select the content category to be barred
  3. Create a PIN (this number will allow you to alter the filter settings or remove it entirely at a later stage)
  4. Input your cellphone number to receive updates on the filter’s settings
  5. Input your chosen PIN

The service is free.

Telkom Mobile & CellC

Enquiries made to both received responses that such services are not currently available, although they do intend to (at some indeterminate point in the future) provide such a service. This is despite articles such as this, from 2011, indicating that Telkom would implement this in 2012.

Alternative options:

There are, of course, third-party options, such as:

  • Mobicip, a cross-platform (Android, Windows, iOS) monitoring and control software – This seems to be one of the most highly regard of the current offerings.Service is free with further paid capability.
  • Smylesafe for Blackberry

Note that these controls will not restrict

  • user-generated content (e.g. home videos, clips and personal pictures)
  • content over Bluetooth®
  • person-to-person MMS messages