Your kids are savvy enough to delete the recent history of their Internet use from their computers. Here are other options for the wary parent:
Yoursphere.com is a social networking site that restricts membership to kids and teens (“creepers,” adults trawling for teens, are sussed out and barred) and monitors bullying.
LMK, short for “Let Me Know,” is a Girl Scouts site where girls can talk to one another about Internet safety.
Websafety.com sells software that can be downloaded to your kid’s cell phone and computer to alert you if she’s sending inappropriate texts or photos.
Safe Eyes lets you track your child’s instant messaging, monitor social networking sites, and impose limits on his online minutes.
Cell Phone Spy Elite, a device from brickhousesecurity.com, retrieves deleted text messages from cell phones.
Parental Guidance Is Key
Walking that fine line between parent and prison guard is tough. Here’s what other parents do when it comes to their teens and social networking sites:
- “My teenage boys have to ‘friend’ me on Facebook, and if I see something that crosses my line, we talk, and they remove it.”
- “We limit her contact list to a few trusted friends.”
- “Since friends do crazy things, they are not allowed to use his computer.”
- “She has iChat and Google Talk, but she will have neither if she chats with someone she does not know.”
- “Two rules: The computer stays in the family room, and we don’t buy laptops. They’re too easy to sneak into another room.”
- “I snoop. She doesn’t want me on her Facebook page, but if the computer’s on, I will check it out.”
- “I unwittingly reinforced the idea that raunchy paper trails are bad when my teenager discovered my high school yearbook. Reading notes from my friends, she was mortified to learn that I had tried drugs.”
- “We conduct surprise inspections of her photo cache and iChat histories. We haven’t installed spyware-yet-but if we find anything out of line, we will, and she knows it.”
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