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Are Your Kids Staying Safe on the Internet?

internet safety tips for parentsThese days, an astonishing 93% of teenagers and adolescents use the Internet. And as a parent, it can be scary to imagine what your child could be doing during their time on the web. When statistics show that one in five children will receive a sexual solicitation on the Internet and about 68% of teens today consider cyberbullying to be a “serious problem” for people their age.

And while your concerns are completely valid, it’s also surprisingly easy to protect your kids online and ensure they’re looking at parts of the Internet that are age-appropriate.

Here are some of our favorite Internet safety tips for parents so you can help protect your children online:

Limit their time in front of the computer.
Spending too much time on the computer is never good, especially for kids who should be going outside or spending time with their friends. A great way to ensure your child isn’t viewing harmful content on the Internet is to simply limit the amount of time he or she can go on the computer. A half-hour a day of computer time after school is a great time limit to start with!

Keep the household computer in an open area.
Rather than allowing your child to lock him or herself up in a computer room, place the family computer in an open area such as the living room, where you can monitor Internet activity with just a glance over their shoulder from across the room. This allows you to view what your child is doing without needing to skim through your computer’s Internet history, an often tedious task.

Limit social media access.
Social media sites can be hotbeds for cyberbullying, as they’re the best conduits for gossip, bullying and other social behaviors that can harm your kids — and cause them to harm others. To protect kids on social media, limit the amount of access they have to sites like Facebook and Twitter by getting software and social media monitoring tools for parents.

Communicate with your kids.
Communication and education between parents and their kids is essential for both a healthy relationship and for both parties to better understand the workings of the world wide web better. You should play an active role in your child’s online life and educate him or her about why it’s important to keep personal information private on the Internet.

What are some other good Internet safety tips for parents you have used? Share with us by leaving a comment.

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Keeping Your Kids From the Dark Corners of the Internet

internet activity monitorAs if parents don’t have enough to worry about with their kids learning to cross the street and not to swallow nickels — now you have to worry about cyberspace, too? Sadly, the Internet is now and will continue to be a murky place filled with shadowy characters and dark corners. The fact that it’s also one of the single most useful inventions in the history of humanity means that it’s not going anywhere soon.

Over 93% of teens regularly go online, and almost three-quarters of them already have social profiles on one or more sites. As long as there’s an Internet to go to, our kids will go to the Internet. As parents, we’d better learn to shepherd our kids through the trouble spots.

What to Monitor
 How much you as a parent decide to monitor will ultimately depend on what kind of a parent you are. Some parents may allow their children more freedom in many areas of their lives, less in others, or a well-reasoned blend of the two. But whichever camp you side with, there are a few key areas to be aware of:

  • Uploaded Photos and Videos: Almost half of all teens (ages 12 to 17) have uploaded photos of themselves online, and almost 15% have uploaded videos. An Internet activity monitor will let you know where these photos and videos are ending up.
  • Chats: The Internet is a great tool for meeting new people all around the world, but predators know this too, and use it to their advantage. If you don’t know a person your teen chats with, make it a point to find out about them.

How to Monitor
Cellphone and Internet activity monitors are not hard to find these days, but quality and functionality are important when making the choice. You should find software that’s easy to set up, easy to use, and includes social media monitoring software, such as Instagram monitoring tools. Better yet, you should find software that isn’t software. Cloud-based Internet activity monitoring means no installation and no complicated setup, but all the functionality to maintain your children’s privacy while still keeping them safe.

Communication
Above all, talk to your kids. Never monitor Internet activity in secret. Tell them what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Let them know where the boundaries are, and what happens if they go outside them. And let them know that, if they have any questions about anything they find online, they can always come to you for answers.

Three Potentially Risky Apps Teenagers are Using Today

social media monitoring softwareFor many teens today, cellphones aren’t a luxury — they’re a necessity for conversing with friends. According to a recent Nielsen survey, 70% of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 now own a smart phone. For many law enforcement officers around the country, this statistic is cause for concern — smartphones, and the apps that can be downloaded to them, pose a large variety of safety risks to teenagers.

According to Detective John Stirling, who is working with the Shawnee Police Department in Kansas, child sex crimes are often being committed now using smartphone technology. Stirling explains that many apps are not inherently dangerous, but can become so in the wrong hands.

“The kids might be completely legitimate, not intending anything bad to happen, but unknowingly, they can put themselves in a bad situation,” says Stirling. He points out that parents can use social media monitoring software.

What apps are teenagers actually using today, and what are the potential risks connected with these apps? Here are three apps you should know about.

1. Instagram
It’s worth noting that teens like to converge where parents aren’t. This means that monitoring a Facebook wall is unlikely to show you anything anymore. Teens are instead going to sites like Instagram. What many don’t realize is that certain social media apps, like Instagram, come with location services that alert anyone as to where they are. It is also possible for strangers to view images that teens might have only intended for their friends to see. Instagram monitoring tools can be used to make sure that children are not sharing inappropriate information with strangers, without realizing it.

2. Kik Messenger
Messaging apps are increasingly preferred over texting for many teens. Two popular apps are Whatsapp and Kik messenger, which grew from 50 million to 100 million users in 2013 alone. These apps are often a problem because the majority of parents don’t even realize they exist — so they don’t know to keep an eye out for them. Kik can be a problem considering that strangers can message teens, and some apps within Kik are designed for adults. Kik also has “photo bomb,” a feature similar to Snap Chat, which encourages teens to take risky photos under the assumption they will just disappear. Internet parental control software can be used to alert parents when new apps are downloaded or used.

3. Ask.FM
Although many of us look at internet safety with the goal of keeping kids away from predators, there’s another threat lurking in many chat spaces: bullies. Many sites, such as Ask.FM, encourage teens to leave anonymous questions and statements for each other. Not surprisingly, these confrontations can often become ugly and devolve into bullying. While some parents might not want to use social media monitoring software, it can be important for uncovering these things.

Do you have any tips for internet safety? Do you use social media monitoring software? Let us know in the comments.

Are Internet Monitoring Tools a Violation of Your Children's Privacy?

 Instagram monitoringAlmost 93% of today’s teenagers (ages 12 to 17) spend time online. Of that same demographic, almost three quarters of them already have social networking profiles. And nearly half have posted photos and videos somewhere online.

This just in: the Internet is not, repeat not, a fad.

It’s the most natural thing in the world for parents not to understand the trends and pop culture references of their children. And hey, it’s funny, right? Think of every sitcom you’ve ever seen where the older parents try to be “cool” in the eyes of their kids. Or think back to your own parents, if they ever tried the same. Makes you L-O-L, doesn’t it? But at least with music and television, parents are familiar with the medium.

The Internet is a whole new ballgame.

Not only do parents these days not understand the things their children are watching, listening to, and participating in on the Internet, but a great many of them don’t fully understand the Internet itself — what it is, what it can do, and how far it can really reach.

For those people who think that things like social media monitoring software and Instagram monitoring tools are a little too “Big Brother” to be good parenting, consider the online “beauty pageant.” These are impromptu “contests” where teen girls post photos of themselves on Instagram, and the world at large — at large, mind you, not just their friends or their peers at school — votes on whether the individual is “hot” or not.

No parent in their right mind would want their daughter (or their son, for that matter) to subject themselves to that kind of criticism — and there is plenty of it, in the form of hateful comments, degrading remarks, and wholly inappropriate statements from people who would never say such things face-to-face.

Instagram monitoring can help parents address this kind of activity, and if not put an immediate stop to it, or at least open up a channel of dialogue with their kids, to discuss things such as self-worth, popularity, and even sexual predation.

Is knowing how to monitor Internet activity (using things like Instagram monitoring tools) a violation of your child’s privacy? No more so than being in the bathroom with them as they were learning to use the potty. Until they know what to do and what not to do, it’s a parent’s job to show them.

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The State of the Internet: Our Teens

internet safety tips for teensThere are many ways to keep track of what your kids are doing online. Social media monitoring software, iPhone monitoring software, Instagram monitoring tools, endless lists of Internet safety tips for teens… all designed to make sure your kids aren’t getting into trouble online, or that trouble isn’t finding them. In light of the horror stories we hear in the media, these precautions give a lot of parents peace of mind. But the horror stories might not be the only stories.

More and more lately, it seems the mainstream media considers their job less informative and more sensationalist fear-mongering. So naturally the horror stories will be what get the most pomp. When things are actually positive and beneficial, and reflect well on a sector of society, the headlines aren’t nearly as large.

For instance, the Media would have you believe that cyber-bullying is running rampant on the Internet, irreparably damaging our youth and eroding the underpinnings of our very civilization. And no one in their right mind would say that cyber-bullying isn’t every bit as reprehensible as regular bullying.

But what doesn’t get reported as often is the fact that many teens aren’t putting up with it. Almost 70% of teens today feel cyber-bullying is a genuine threat and a major problem. Over 94% report that they’ve seen others ignore cyber-bullying when it happens. And an admirable 84% have either witnessed a victim being defended or participated in the defense themselves.

We as parents should never stop worrying about threats to our children’s safety. Learning about Internet safety tips for teens, children, and even ourselves is imperative in today’s rapidly expanding online universe. But let’s not forget to take stock every now and then, see the positive and forward-thinking ways our teens are reacting to these threats, and take a moment or two to be proud of them.

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Why Parents Shouldn't Live in Fear of the Internet

 monitor internet activityIf you’re like most parents today, you’ve found yourself feeling pretty conflicted about new technology. On one hand, Netflix is pretty much your best friend and it’s great to keep your entire shopping list right on your phone. But on the other hand, you find yourself worrying about what your kids are getting into when they go online. You want to set privacy controls (or just block everything, honestly) but you just know that one of the kids will figure out what you’ve done, and before you know it, the next world war is taking place at the dinner table.

And more than anything else, you just feel confused. How are you supposed to monitor internet activity without encroaching on your kids’ privacy? How can you make sure that your kids aren’t seeing inappropriate pages without flipping through their Instagram and Twitter feeds every night? An estimated 93% of teens between the ages 12 and 17 go online, and it’s not just to use social media sites. Anyone with a teenage in high school knows how much teachers love assigning research projects. It’s great that learning opportunities are more accessible than ever, but it’s getting harder to monitor internet activity — and nearly impossible to keep kids from the internet entirely.

The thing is, wanting to find out how to monitor internet activity is about more than wanting to make sure that your 13 year old isn’t swearing in online chat rooms. The problem with so much new technology is that no one seems to know how to use and control it; we only find out about its flaws after something bad happens. Kids aren’t always aware of the permanence that accompanies internet postings, but parents often have a hard time finding reasonable ways to protect kids on social media because “I’m just blocking the entire social media forever” seems so much easier than sitting down and really figuring out which sites are safe, and which aren’t.

Rather than just secretly installing iPhone text monitoring software, or waiting until your kids are away at school, another option is to sit down with kids and discuss tips for internet safety. An estimated 68% of teens agree that internet bullying is a serious problem, and about 95% of all teens who use the internet have seen their peers abuse social media sites in order to bully others. But by teaching your kids how to use these websites safely, and by developing a trusting relationship wherein they feel comfortable talking to you about what they do online, you can help make the internet a safer place for everyone.

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5 Points to Discuss with Your Child About Cyberbullying

protect kids on social mediaYour children likely spend a lot more time on social media than you do. Ninety-three percent of teens go online, and 73% have profiles on social networking sites. This might make you a little nervous, and it should. Cyberbullying has become an epidemic. But what can you, as a parent, do to protect kids on social media? It’s most important to talk to your children about cyberbullying, and we’ve included some points for you to cover in the conversation.

  1. “What is cyberbullying?” – Make sure your child understands what cyberbullying is, and why it is so important to be upfront about it. Sixty-eight percent of teens agree that cyberbullying is a problem, so it’s likely that once you bring it up, they will have seen it happen before. Sometimes, children do not realize that it’s necessary for adults to step in and protect kids on social media, in order to avoid a serious problem.
  2. “You can come to me” – It’s important that your child understands that they can come to you if they think they are being cyberbullied, or have witnessed someone else being cyberbullied.
  3. “Just between us” – Also assure them that any information that is not a matter of health or safety will be strictly confidential. You’re not about to get involved in the middle school gossip circle unless something serious is going on.
  4. “No repercussions” – The main reason kids avoid reporting cyberbullying is because they are afraid they will get in trouble, and have their phone or internet privileges taken away. Make sure your child understands that cyberbullying is not their fault, and that they will not be punished for talking to you.
  5. “Let’s be honest” – What social networking sites do they frequent? Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Make sure you know where they are on the internet, and what they’re doing. Also, let them know that you will monitor internet activity and will be keeping an eye on what they’re doing. Internet parental control software for child phone monitoring, and parental control for internet usage, may seem like an invasion of privacy, for the both of you, but it’s the only way to keep an eye on the situation.

It may seem overwhelming, but there are ways to protect kids on social media. There are many steps you can take, but the most important one is to be open and honest with your child, because if he or she feels comfortable coming to you without any problems or judgment, you’re much more likely to be able to nip any problem in the bud before it becomes too serious.

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