How to Monitor Your Kids’ Online Activity

Do some parents go too far when it comes to monitoring their kids on the Internet?

Photography by sk8geek, via Flickr (CC)

A few years ago, the most parents could do to control their child’s activity on the computer was to install parental-control software, blocking any inappropriate websites. These days, children and teens have plenty of ways to access the big, bad Internet, and many parents are concerned with how they can keep tabs on their kids’ online activity.

As discussed in a recent New York Times article, technology has advanced to make online monitoring a lot easier for parents.

The article describes how one mother installed software that would keep her up-to-date with what her children did online. She discovered that one of her teenage daughters had her own YouTube channel, so she subscribed to it.

Parents can now also download applications for their children’s smartphones that will send a notification when their teen is texting while driving. Other apps let parents to keep track of every detail (including chats) that appear on their kids’ Facebook profiles.

One concerned woman allowed her granddaughter to have a smartphone under the condition that Grandma could monitor her every move. She decided to use uKnowKids.com, which goes through her granddaughter’s Facebook page and text messages. It also alerts her about inappropriate language, and includes what she says on Twitter, who she texts and what photos she is tagged in. The app even translates common slang.

The article details another iPod application called textPlus, which allows users to communicate to a group through a single message (one dad in the article used this app to trace his teen’s text messages to his girlfriend). Another dad installed software that tracks Web visits. He also uses MinorMonitor, which alerts him to references of bullying or alcohol on his daughter’s Facebook page.

While some children may not mind that their parents monitor their every move online, a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center suggests that this intrusion of privacy is likely to cause arguments between parents and their kids.

Is surveillance the best way to protect your kids online? Take our poll!

How do you monitor your kids’ online activity? For tips on walking that fine line between privacy and safety, check out this article.

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