How to Monitor Your Teen’s Online Activity
Today's guest blogger is Staci Perkins, a tech-savvy mom of two social media-using teenage boys, a tween girl who’s constantly connected to her cell phone, and a fourth grade boy who is just venturing out to (cyber) space.
As technology evolves at lightning speed, it’s difficult to keep up with what’s out there in the cyber world.
How are parents supposed to understand all of the options available to kids – Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, instant messaging, even email accounts and cell phones -- let alone monitor their online reputations and privacy?
Tech Tools for Parents
At SafetyWeb, parents can type in their child’s email address and with one click (and in just 30 seconds) learn what information about their child is out there for the world to see. SafetyWeb monitors your child’s social media activity, Facebook page and hundreds of profiles across the web. Save time by viewing activity reports all in one place, without having to read every post your child makes online.
Automated Parental Alerts
You also may set up parental alerts for inappropriate content – a good segueway into a meaningful conversation later. Because as difficult as it is for teens and preteens to grasp, their cyber footprints really do last forever. If your child is talking about drugs or alcohol, using hate language or profanity, or perhaps is being bullied or threatened online by another child, SafetyWeb alerts you instantly.
Manage Your Child's Reputation
SafetyWeb has a section of its site dedicated to the management of your child’s online reputation. The site says several recent studies have outlined the harmful effects of inappropriate online content. A study of hiring managers conducted in June 2009 found that 45% performed online background checks using Google and other search engines (more than double the 22% who did so last year), and of those, a full 35% had disregarded a candidate based upon online content found in a search. The job-forfeiting content included provocative or inappropriate photographs or information (53%), content involving drugs or alcohol (44%), and numerous instances of work-related information being over-shared.
Be Aware of Questionable Activity
So what happens if you check your child’s online rep and find questionable activity? If it’s something your child posted, you can contact SafetyWeb (1-888-SAFE-WEB) for help reporting and removing the content. Ask your child to set up stricter privacy settings on his or her social media accounts to keep out unfriendly “friends.”
If a situation is more severe, such as cyberbullying, contact your child’s school for help with mediation between the students involved. Contact the other party’s parents because it’s likely they may not know what their own child is posting.
Monitor Cell Phone Activity for Safety
Teens spend hours texting and calling their friends, with the average teen sending over 3,000 text messages per month. Keeping up with your teen's cell phone activity is challenging, but SafetyWeb keeps it simple with mobile monitoring. Without having to read your cell phone bill, parents can see in minutes who is calling and texting your child most frequently, how many text messages and calls your child makes in a given time period, and whether someone is texting your child in the middle of the night or during school hours. SafetyWeb's mobile alerts feature tells parents instantly if a text or call is sent or received by your child during a specific time frame (parents can set up 'restricted hours' they want to monitor for using SafetyWeb). There's no need to worry unless an alert is sent to your email address or cell phone via text message. You can also check in to SafetyWeb.com to view your alerts and your child's cell phone summary.
It's worth having a conversation with your teen about how you're looking out for their internet safety using tools like SafetyWeb. Rather than reading every post on their Facebook page, let them know that you'll be alerted to content that matters and that may actually put their safety in danger. Explain to your children that although it may appear that you are hovering, you are in fact giving them the freedom to be themselves online, but that you just parenting in cyberspace and keeping them safe as always. Bring up recent media events such as collegiate cyber bullying to show them just how dangerous it can be to “put it all out there.”
It’s our job to protect and teach our children the best that we can. And since we can’t be everywhere all of the time, especially online, SafetyWeb gives us the tools to help.
Leave a Response