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New Study Uncovers Some Surprising Facts About Kids, Parents, and Internet Activity

monitor internet activityIn November 2014, the Family Online Safety Institute released the findings of a study, titled “Parenting in the Digital Age,” and the data that was gleaned from the research may come as a bit of a surprise to some adults and parents, especially those who are looking for better ways to monitor internet activity of their kids.

First, let’s take a quick look at some of the statistics from the report:
95% of parents monitor their kids’ internet activity to some extent, and 55% of parents say that they monitor internet activity very closely.

80% of parents with young children say that they’e confident in their ability to protect kids on social media sites and cell phone apps simply because they know more about technology than their children; parents of teens between the ages of 14 and 17, however, don’t feel quite so confident. Only 36% of parents with kids in this age group feel that they know enough about technology to protect their kids and monitor internet activity efficiently.

53% of parents note that the internet does possess useful resources for their children, and they believe that the benefits of using the internet outweigh the possible dangers. 42% of parents state that the benefits are about equal to the risks, and only 5% of parents say that the risks of internet usage are greater than the benefits.

So what does all of this mean?
Not only has the importance of internet grown exponentially in the past decade or so, but it’s now possible to access the internet nearly anywhere and on any electronic device.

Secondly, like most technology, parents tend to understand it more than their kids — but only up until a certain age. The older they get, the harder it is to protect your kids online and to use internet content filtering software that they won’t be able to circumvent.

The third point is that many parents want to trust their kids, and many parents do trust their kids — it’s the rest of the internet that they don’t trust. This notion often gets twisted, or even misunderstood, when parents try to explain to their kids why they’ve installed cellphone and social media monitoring software.

Believe it or not, older kids and teens generally understand that the internet can be a dangerous place, and they understand the importance of safe internet practices — this notion is often ignored or understated as well. Ultimately, it tends to be difficult for parents to ensure the safety of their kids online simply because of all these misunderstandings.

What we’re trying to say here is that internet activity monitoring tools can be extremely useful, and they can put you at ease if you’re prone to worrying about what your kids see and do online. But make sure that you also give your kids an opportunity to express their own concerns, understand why their internet activity and text messages are being monitored, and feel comfortable enough to come to you if they see something inappropriate online.

Why Cyberbullying Isn't the Same as Traditional Bullying

protect your kids online Bullying is one of those age-old parts of childhood and adolescence that everyone seems to have gone through at some point, and it’s common for victims of bullying to hear advice like “It won’t last forever,” or “Just ignore the mean kids and they’ll go away.”

The main problem today, however, is that bullying isn’t the same as it was “back in the day” (you know, when you had to walk six miles to school, uphill both ways, in two feet of snow, without boots). Something called “cyberbullying” is beginning to push traditional bullying methods out of the way, and beyond the fact that most adults can’t comprehend the severity of online bullying (simply because they’ve never been directly involved in it), it’s harder than ever to protect your kids online and monitor whether or not they’re dealing with bullies (or being bullies themselves).

But what exactly is cyberbullying, and how is it any different from traditional bullying?

As the name would suggest, cyberbullies use social sharing websites and apps to pressure, tease, and threaten their peers. Instead of making jokes in the lunch room or knocking a classmate’s books over in the hallway, cyberbullies are able to spew out hurtful insults and threats from behind their computer screens.

Whereas traditional bullying often incorporates a physical form of intimidation or injury, cyberbullying is more psychological. Time and time again, studies have shown that this sort of abuse has long-lasting effects on victims, and has been the direct cause for countless cases of teen depression, anxiety, and suicide.

It might be surprising, but teens themselves are actually very aware of the severity of online bullying. Even though 95% of all teens online have seen other people ignoring an instance of someone bullying a peer, about 84% of teens say that they’ve seen someone stand up for the victim. Overall, nearly 70% of teens today agree that cyberbulling is a serious problem.

As a parent, it isn’t always possible to protect your kids online and monitor internet activity at every point during the day, especially when they start growing up and want to have more freedom and trust. There’s plenty of social media monitoring software for parents on the market today, but the power of face-to-face conversations with your kids, regarding tips on internet safety, shouldn’t be ignored.

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Internet Monitoring Software — Is It Worth It? Is It Necessary?

protect your kids onlineLet’s face it: the argument “I used to be your age once!” doesn’t really work so well with parents explaining rules and restrictions to their kids. Even though parents have experienced those teenage years before, there are two big problems with this argument:

1. Chances are, it’s been a long time since the parent was at that age, and it’s likely that he/she has forgotten just how difficult it was to navigate becoming an adult;

2. When parents were at that age, they didn’t have access to so much digital technology. There were no cell phones, no high-tech video game systems, and if the phrase “Facebook” was used at all, it probably sounded very, very alarming.

It’s common for parents and kids alike to become frustrated by everything. Parents want to give their teens some room to grow and make mistakes, and teens want to be trusted and not have their parents monitor internet activity 24/7. The problem is, it’s getting increasingly difficult to protect your kids online without installing extensive social media monitoring software. But why?

  1. Peer-on-peer bullying is especially prevalent, harmful, and difficult to regulate on social media websites. Even though 68% of teens today agree that cyberbullying is a problem, 95% of teens on social media sites say that they have witnessed cyberbullying take place and have seen their peers neglect to speak up against the bullying.
  2. It’s easy to access multi-media content that contains inappropriate language, depictions of drug abuse, and absurd over-sexualized messages and pictures. It’s very easy for these subjects to make their way into the messages and posts of teens themselves.
  3. Law enforcement agencies are becoming more adept at detecting and catching online predators who target young kids, but some predators still manage to sneak through the cracks.

Considering that experts estimated that over 90% of teens ages 12 to 17 go online regularly, and about 73% of teens have active profiles on social media websites, as a parent, you’ve probably already realized that it’s getting much harder to protect your kids online — but that it’s absolutely crucial to do something about it.

But what do you think? Is it more effective for parents to have open discussions regarding tips for internet safety, or should parents just go with an internet activity monitoring tool? Tell us what you think over in the comments section!

What You Need to Know About the Short Term Effects of Cyber Bullying

short term effects of bullyingCalling cyber bulling a “serious problem” would be a gross understatement. Even though about 84% of teens who use social media have seen people defend the person being harassed, the overwhelming majority (95%) of social media-using teenagers have seen someone being cyber bullied online with no one helping them.

Yet, only 68% of teens think that it’s a serious problem.

Chances are it’s because these teens don’t know or understand how serious the short term effects of bullying are. While some people can simply brush off cyber bulling, it can cut others all too deeply.

To give you, as a parent, a better understanding of just how harmful this noxious practice is, here are a few of the most devastating short term effects of bullying.

Depression
One of the most obvious short term effects of bullying is depression. Children who are being harassed in some way, shape, or form online often withdraw into themselves and feel upset almost all of the time. Consequentially, they wind up avoiding others, even their parents. Things may get so bad that they actually wind up skipping class or school.

Physical Effect
Cyber bullying can be so bad sometimes that it even manifests itself physically. Some of the short term effects of bullying can include symptoms like constant stomach pains, headaches, and other similar issues, which are caused by the perpetual anxiety and stress of being cyberbullied.

Academic Performance
Bullying not only affects the victim, but the bully themselves, which often has an impact on their school work and life. Some of the short term effects of bullying that aggressors experience include difficulties keeping friends, school absences, and even an increased risk of dropping out.

The short term effects of bullying are serious, and need to be treated as such. The best way to protect your kids online and protect kids on social media is to keep an eye on their online activity. Establish an honest and open dialogue with them, and if you think they’re not being entirely truthful with you — as victims often try to protect their attackers — consider using an Internet activity monitoring tool or an iPhone home monitoring tool to make sure there’s nothing of concern going on.

If you have any questions about the long or short term effects of bullying, feel free to ask in the comments.

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Online Threats are Real: How Parents Can Keep Their Teens Safe Online

internet activity monitorIt seems that these days there’s always a story in the news meant to shock parents — and with good reason. Recently a 52-year-old man was arrested in Salt Lake City for trying to entice a 15-year-old girl to meet him at a hotel. Once he arrived, he was arrested by the city’s police force. The most terrifying part for parents out there is that the man used Facebook — a popular social networking site used by over one billion people around the world — to meet the girl.

Does your teen have a social media account on a site like Facebook? Are you a parent who’s concerned about whom your children talk to online? You may feel that once your child begins using one of these sites, there’s nothing you can do to protect him or her save taking away internet access altogether. However, though some parents may be tempted to cut off your child’s internet access altogether, other options exist. From following basic tips for internet safety to utilizing internet activity monitoring tools, you can ensure that your children stay safe online.

Use the following tips to keep your kids — and the whole family — safe on the internet:

Communicate Openly
As a parent, you should be able to let your children know the risks of being online. Be available for questions if your kids have them, and “check in” to see how they’re doing.

Use Privacy Protections
Common tips on internet safety include the same kinds of things you wouldn’t say or do for a stranger on the street, like giving out your personal information, address, phone number, or school name. Although social media sites make protecting privacy a bit more difficult, encourage your children to only make their profiles visible to friends and family and only take friend requests from people they know in real life.

Limit Computer and Phone Time
It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re looking at a screen all day, whether that’s the TV, the computer, or a smartphone. When it comes to internet usage, you can set limits that will not only ensure that your kids aren’t spending too much time online, but also so they can get some rest and have plenty of quality social interaction — without having a nose buried in their phones. Make sure to set a “bed time” for internet use, and don’t let your kids and teens go to bed with a phone, so they avoid late-night texting, too.

Use Internet Activity Monitoring Tools
If you’re concerned about whom you children speak to online, you can use one of the many internet activity monitoring tools available today. You can also use social media monitoring software for parents to watch your child’s activity on sites like Facebook or Twitter. Approximately 73% of teens between the ages of 12 and 17 have profiles on these websites, and 47% regularly post photos online. As a parent, you’ll want to know who is seeing those photos to keep your children safe.

Current estimates state that 93% of teens use the internet, so the need for better communication, strict limits, and social media monitoring is clear. Do you have more questions about keeping your kids safe? Leave a comment below.

Online Safety and Your Kids

protect kids on social mediaIf you’re holding out hope that the Internet is just a fad that will blow over soon, here are some numbers that might bring you back to reality: Almost 94% of teens (ages 12 through 17) go online. Of that same age group, almost three-quarters maintain profiles on one or more social networking sites, almost half have uploaded photos somewhere online, and nearly 15% have uploaded videos.

The bottom line? The Internet users of tomorrow are already using the Internet today. And it’s going to be around a long, long time.

With all this activity online, it’s no wonder parents are scrambling to find the best ways to protect kids on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat (just to name a few). So what’s the best way to keep your kids safe?

Software solutions exist, pitting technology against technology in order to monitor Internet activity and report any behavior that falls outside of the established parameters. Instagram monitoring tools, iPhone monitoring software, and even Internet content filters can, to a certain extent, shield children from many of the dangers of the Internet.

But the best iPhone monitoring software in the world can’t replace good old-fashioned parent-to-child communication. Sitting down and talking to your kids about what kinds of online behavior are okay and what kinds aren’t is a crucial first step in establishing the kind of trust you need to have in this age of instant information. The Internet can be a vastly powerful learning tool for your children — but only if they go about it safely.

If you never let your kids leave the house, they technically lead a safer life. But they’ll also miss out on all the world has to offer. Learning how to protect kids on social media and the Internet in general doesn’t mean shutting out that immense world — it just means learning the safest ways to navigate it, so they can truly get the most out of it.

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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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