Text guard: Being Big Brother was never so easy!

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I consider myself a moderately effective text messager. While my training as an editor and former English teacher means that I have a hard time using alpha-numerical shortcuts like "gr8!" or "U no what I mean," I can still express myself fairly effectively and quickly.

That having been said, I must admit to a fair bit of wonder when I observe preteens on the subway, holding conversations with their fellow passengers while they somehow speed-type War and Peace-length messages to their friends. Watching their tiny thumbs vibrate with blurring speed, I feel a little bit like homo neanderthalensis observing those pesky little homo sapiens with their precious non-apelike faces and wiry body types. To put it mildly, I can feel evolution breathing down my neck.

My daughter, at three, is still too young to text message, but I can easily foresee a day in which she will conduct a rich and varied social life through the use of her cellphone. Luckily, new technologies will make it possible for me to keep tabs on her social life, ensuring that she stays away from that creep Lorie and doesn't get too friendly with the neighborhood sex offenders. Perhaps the most impressive of these programs is TextGuard; for $11.95 a month, it enables the user to read and even block all the messages that are sent or received from a particular cell phone.

I have to admit that it's a little disturbing that I will be able to purchase such impressive power for less than the price of three Big Mac value meals. In fact, when the time comes, I will probably have to do some serious soul-searching. Will I really want to oversee all of my daughter's cell-phone base communications, ensuring her safety at the cost of all her privacy? Do I really want to become Big Brother, ruthlessly controlling my little girl's private life? In my desire to be a better parent, will I become a lesser person? Most of all, does the NSA ever have massive moments of bone-shaking, existentialist doubt?

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. He always considered himself more of a Winston Smith kind of guy.

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