Apple has been awarded a patent that can keep you from sending or receiving "objectionable" text-messages. The patent, filed in January of 2008 and approved today, will allow certain content to be filtered, based on parental controls.

The description of the patent doesn't mention sexting, although that may be the main thing many parents would want to forbid. Rather, it gives the example of parents requiring a set number of words per day be included in emails for a child learning Spanish. And parental control applications to encourage language acquisition are, indeed, innovative.

The abstract of the patent reads:

Systems, devices, and methods are provided for enabling a user to control the content of text-based messages sent to or received from an administered device. In some embodiments, a message will be blocked (incoming or outgoing) if the message includes forbidden content. In other embodiments, the objectionable content is removed from the message prior to transmission or as part of the receiving process. The content of such a message is controlled by filtering the message based on defined criteria. The criteria may be defined according to a parental control application. These techniques also may be used, in accordance with instructional embodiments, to require the administered devices to include certain text in messages. These embodiments might, for example, require that a certain number of Spanish words per day be included in e-mails for a child learning Spanish.

Having these sorts of controls may be one more step in keeping Apple devices safe from porn. And arguably, they may help make the iPhone more workplace and school-friendly. Or it may be another step towards Apple authoritarian control over our mobile devices.

I asked my seventeen-year-old if having these sorts of parental controls over the content of text messages would change teen behavior. He declined to comment - mortified, I'm sure, that I had the audacity to even raise the subject of sexting. But then, I swear, I saw him look down at his Android and smile.