MIAMI (CBS4) – Monitoring your kids’ Internet activity used to be as easy as setting up the family desktop in the living room. Not any more. Thanks to smart phones, tablets, laptops and portable game systems, kids are online all the time without mom and dad’s knowledge.
That’s something Roger Thompson knows all too well. With nine adopted kids, his house is a high-tech hot spot.
“My kids will be on the Internet from all over the house, or perhaps in the backyard or in the bathroom. You can’t, you can’t possibly monitor it manually.”
Thompson has worked hard to make sure his kids are texting, chatting and surfing the web safely.
“Nine year olds today have iPods and iPads and Facebook and Twitter. We want to trust our kids, but we want to be parents,” said Thompson.
So Thompson and others have turned to new mobile monitoring software. It allows parents to set Internet controls for almost any portable device.
Basic software from a mobile app store is a few bucks more. Advanced protection can be found for under $70. Some companies offer a free mobile upgrade to existing subscribers, while others charge a small monthly fee.
What can it do?
Tim Armstrong, a MalWare Researcher for Kaspersky Lab Americas, explains. “The software that’s available now is able to monitor pretty much any style of communication that we’re used to. You can monitor SMS messages, text messages, you can monitor emails, you can even monitor GPS locations.”
You can also capture calls, emails, chats and tests to make sure your child isn’t a target.
“And while you can’t avoid things like cyberbullying, you can react to them much more quickly before these things escalate,” said Armstrong.
You can also monitor websites visited and set up keyword alerts, and you can see photos and texts being sent to and from your child.
“So really parents have the complete picture of who their kids are talking to, what kind of media they’re sending and where they’re located,” explained Jeani Park of Product StrategiesSpectorSoft.
Thompson says he trusts his kids, but says it’s still important to stay vigilant.
“We don’t snoop,” said Thompson. “But the software is able to watch for trends that might be developing that we should be made aware of.”
Most of this software is not meant for secret spying. In fact, due to potential privacy issues, in some cases, teens may need to give their consent before it can be installed on their mobile devices.