How can you monitor what your kids are doing without turning into a spy?

The Internet is a great tool, but it can be a very dangerous place. It’s alluring, it can be addicting, and it has everything. I remember after we first got the Internet at my mom and dad’s house. It was long after the Internet had begun, but we were all fascinated by it. It’s so bright and shiny! It moved so fast! You could talk to people in real time from anywhere in the world! Wow! Now, everyone seems to be online everywhere and sometimes kids can unknowingly get themselves into sticky situations. Hopefully, these tips can help answer some nagging questions about how to monitor what the kids are doing online without turning into a world class spy, or have to stand over their shoulder every minute they log on.

Get an Early Start

Dan Tynan from Yahoo Tech says it’s important for parents to be involved with what their kids are looking at online, and it’s a good idea to get an early start. That way, parents can set the ground rules. If it’s a little too late for the early start, there’s a program out there called UKnowKids that lets parents look at what their kids are doing on their phones and posting on Facebook and Twitter. The service is a great assistant for parents, but they can’t use it without the permission or knowledge of their kids because it asks for passwords and user names and if the app is deactivated, you get an email, which can open the door for discussion as to why they object to being watched and can serve as a reminder to them as to who makes the rules and who really pays for that phone.

Let Them Know You’re Doing It

Don’t be sneaky about monitoring them. Carleton Kendrick, a family therapist in Boston and co-author of a book called Take Out Your Nose Ring, Honey. We’re Going To Grandma’s (best book title, ever, by the way) says that if parents are sneaky about watching what their kids are doing online and their kids find out they’re being spied on, they’re going to flip out. Carleton says that kids are going to do everything they can to get around the spying and it’s also going to break that trust and ruin things for both parent and child down the road.

Don’t Be Creepy About It

Remember the phrase, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”, so just because you can see every key stroke, text and tweet doesn’t mean you should look at everything. Set the ground rules and redraw those boundaries as the kids mature. Since many home security companies allow you to put cameras in your home and monitor them from your phone or computer, be careful. Security expert Michael Dunteman says think about it like you’re placing surveillance on yourself. Don’t put cameras in bedrooms or bathrooms. Keep cameras in places like doorways, halls and common areas.

How Do You Watch Your Kids Online?

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