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In Defense of "Dumb"
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At the behest of friends who have recently gifted their 11-year-old son with a smartphone, I searched the internet for a software app that would allow them to monitor him remotely. I argued with them about the ethics of such software (I oppose its use) and I really didn't expect to find any such thing anyway. Smartphones are sold as protected by encryption coding and all that.

To amazement, I found spyware for sale, some as inexpensive as $20, which allowed remote control of a cell phone, listening to calls, seeing text messages and emails, photos and the like. Of course there is also tracking by GPS updates, useful if kidnapped (the ever-present fear of helicopter parents).

All anyone needs to do is buy the software and spend about 10 minutes with the phone itself to install it. You can even buy the phones with the spyware already installed.

Wondering if your smartphone is infected? Beware of the following: texts to unknown phone numbers, especially if made at the same time as legitimate calls.

Another indicator: the battery is warm when the phone hasn't been used or the battery charge is used up too quickly.

And be suspicious if the phone flickers when it isn't in use.

I'm so glad I have a "dumb" cell phone. It give me the freedom I need to roam and still be in touch. It reassures me by being by my bedside at night or at hand in an emergency. And it's not likely to become infected by spyware.

Dumb is good. Does that make me a Luddite?

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