Cyberstalking
For Safety

Cyberstalking. The mere sight of the word may make you cringe and rightly so. It seems like every minute on Dateline's "To Catch a Predator" there's a perv lurking behind his computer monitor to lure your child. When you think about it, however, there could possibly be another way cyberstalking is actually good. Check that -- really good. Let's not say stalking but rather monitoring -- as in closely monitoring your child's web whereabouts. When it comes down to parenting and taking the reigns to oversee your child's web adventures, well that's a good kind of "stalking" indeed.
Girl on Computer

Internet Safety Agreement

Ross Ellis, founder and chief executive officer, Love Our Children, USA, a non-profit leader in breaking the cycle of violence against children, says parental involvement and open communication are significant ways to protect your child in an online environment. "Kids are very, very naïve and they don't quite understand there are dangers out there."

First and foremost, she says their computer must be monitored. Of course kids will say, "Oh, you don't trust me" and the key is for parents to instill trust yet also be aware of what their kids are doing. For instance, Ellis strongly encourages parents and kids under the age of ten to sign an internet safety agreement. This agreement essentially serves as a vehicle for kids to go to their parents if they sense something is wrong, and also serves to remind them not to give out personal information.

Another way to effectively get involved is to establish rules such as sites that are approved to be visited along with a time frame. "Kids shouldn't be online more than two to three hours each day."

P911

It's also important to get out of adult mode and understand their language. "POS is 'parent over shoulder,'" she says as children will talk in computerspeak. For instance, P911 is "parent alert," HB is "hurry back," F2F is "face to face," GTR is "got to run," A/S/L means "age, sex, location," and DIKU is "do I know you?"

Not only is it important to know what kids are typing, it's also important to know what chat rooms they're entering. In fact, there are chat features embedded within games for kids over the age of 12 so it's not a traditional chat room that we're familiar with, but a chat room nonetheless.

When it comes to privacy, Ellis emphasizes the importance that children never reveal their real name, school, birthdays, address or post pictures of themselves. Some parents will simply tell their kids, "Because I said so." Instead of this insufficient answer, Ellis advises explaining why it's good to set these rules and regulations and indicating there are people out there who can't be trusted.

My space is your space

Once rules are established it's important to keep your guard up at all times. According to Michael Broukhim of TotSpot.com, a safe haven for parents to publish a page about their kids and share with family and friends, parents can actually build pages for their kids with their kids. Essentially they're working in a safe and secure environment together.

"When their kids are particularly young, it makes sense to participate directly in your child's web usage. In that respect, we often encourage parents to try out TotSpot as a 'shared experience' with their kids. As kids get older, there's a growing number of technologies that can help parents take on the challenge of providing a safe web-browsing experience, for instance, the Kidzui web browser."

Above all, he notes, "At some level, all relationships are built on trust. We hope parents take the initiative to communicate -- both in words and actions -- with their kids about online safety in order to forge that trust."

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Comments

Comments on "How to monitor your child's online activities"

Eileen October 11, 2012 | 3:09 PM

How can I find my daughter on Facebook when she has herself hidden and only her friends can be her friend? She has so many emails I can't keep up with my passwords and then on top of that try finding hers. Can someone help me? I can look up her name and she is all over the Internet and she only 15 years old.

Xara Mattingly September 22, 2012 | 4:04 PM

Okay. First off, I am a teen, and I don't use that "launguage" nor do i know anyone that does. we use idk (i dont know) lms (like my status) smh (shake my head) lol omg (laugh out loud) (oh my god) lmao (laugh my a** off) lmbo (laugh my butt off) ily (i love you) stuff like that. totally false!

what? September 28, 2010 | 7:34 PM

It's human nature to be scared of what they don't understand. Parents don't understand the internet, how it works, how it's just if not less likely that your child will be "raped" on the internet than "real life". If parents took some time to actually listen to their children with open minds they would actually understand. The bigger deal you make of the internet, the more your child will rebel against you. To the author: No one, and I mean NO KID uses the terms "POS", "P911", "HB", "F2F", "GTR" or "DIKU". They use "ASL" but I've only heard it being used in omegle or chat roulette. Please research your topic or you might give people the wrong idea. "Computer speak" might be a rather irrelevant thing to call you out on but it just proves how little you know about the topic.

Victoria April 24, 2009 | 10:27 AM

I think the social networking sites CAN be good for teens and even pre-teen kids. Most of their friends are probably using these sites, so they want to be on them too. Kids can meet other kids that they did not know before. Even kids that go to their own school...it gives them a chance to branch out a little. The drawback is that when parents do not monitor their kids' activities. Kids can easily be drawn out of the social networks into real life danger. It should always be the parent's decision to allow or not allow social networking. If you choose to allow them to join a social network, you better take the responsibility to monitor your children's activities. I keep the computer in a public area of the house to monitor kids’ on-line activity. Also I use internet filtering software Ez Internet Timer (http://www.internettimer) to block Internet browsers, e-mails, messengers in cases when I out. I think it's also important to add that I know of at least two of my seventeen year old.

Manfred July 16, 2008 | 2:10 PM

The best way to protect your children from predators or from unwanted behavior with other children is the use of monitoring software. Monitoring software is not just good software to have; with the dangers of the internet today it is software you need to have if you have children using the computer. It’s funny that very few people will risk their computer by going on the internet without an anti virus program; but many waver on whether to protect their children by monitoring their actions on the internet. How can protecting your child be less important than protecting your computer? My wife and I installed a program called Spector Pro on our daughter’s computer and it has allowed us to monitor her internet activity discreetly and easily. I had heard of keyloggers before but I had no idea software like this could include so many features. The Spector Pro program records all the keystrokes, chats, emails and it even takes snap shots of the screen that I can play back like a VCR. It allows me to see everything that has been on the computer screen. We originally purchased the program because we were concerned about her use of MySpace and Facebook. One of the main reasons we chose Spector Pro was because it has separate recording features for these sites. I can see all the MySpace and Facebook information separately; including login information, profiles she is viewing and who is viewing her; it even lets me when she posts to her blog or posts pictures. This program has been a real life saver. It not only allowed us to correct some issues we were concerned with; but it now gives us the piece of mind that comes from knowing EXACTLY what she is doing online. I can’t recommend it highly enough; in fact my wife is a school teacher and recommends this program to many of her students’ parents. Just Google Spector Pro and check out their web site. You will see what I mean.

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