The Best Monitoring Technology That Can Protect Your Teen Online
Teens live in a virtual world populated by social media, online gaming, and chat/IM that can be instantly accessed with the swipe of a finger 24 hours a day. While convenient connectivity to friends, socialization and entertainment has become the norm, the online world still remains extremely problematic. Lurking in the shadows of the dark corners of the internet hides the damaging and dirty side of the wired world–cyberbullying, online predators, x-rated content and so much more. Kids and teens also don’t always know a friend from a foe because online identities can remain masked and anonymous. Honesty on the internet is a virtue that not all online users embrace, and the need for escapism that lures teens online also attracts those who wish to cloak themselves for nefarious reasons.
Parents, however, are the best advocates for online safety and for ensuring that the technology that allows teens to connect also keeps them safe from predators. October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and now is the time to talk to kids about the dangers of cyberbullying and other online dangers. According to statistics on StopBullying.gov, “15% of high school students (grades 9–12) were electronically bullied in the past year.” However, some students and teens are more at risk than others. In fact, the site notes that more than 55 percent of LGBTQ students reported being bullied online.
Cyberbullying can take many forms. Name calling, posting threats, distributing of inappropriate photos, posting untrue rumors and other malicious activities are all types of cyberbullying. Many teens engage in cyberbullying anonymously through social media apps, others may even create accounts in the name of the victim. So what can parents do to ensure that their child is neither the victim…nor the perpetrator?
Monitoring software can help parents block problematic apps that may be notorious platforms for cyberbullying. And software like TeenSafe also can allow parents to check browser history, text messages and phone call logs. Before utilizing any monitoring software, though, parents need to discuss why the software is being implemented on a device. Parents also can make monitoring part of the stipulation of a teen or preteen having their own phone or device.
Utilizing software to monitor a teen’s device might help teens become less susceptible to bullying, but it also can help ensure that they also don’t fall prey to predators. Teens who are deleting messages to hide certain correspondence might think they are in the clear, but TeenSafe allows parents to see those deleted texts. This means that parents can scope out any potential dangers or harmful photos.
Certain apps also are more problematic for inappropriate behaviors online. TeenSafe also allows parents to view all messages from WhatsApp and KikMessenger. Parents can view messages that are sent and received via these apps to ensure that teens are interacting appropriately and that others aren’t sending harmful or threatening messages.
Many parents also worry about the friends that teens are contacting. While peers from school may make up the majority of a teen’s contact list, some names might be unfamiliar to parents. TeenSafe allows parents to view all contacts and keep up with the friends and individuals with whom their teens are communicating. If parents see a name or contact that is new or worrisome, though, they need to talk to their child before jumping to a negative assumption.
Monitoring should never be used by parents as a means of control or ‘spying.’ TeenSafe should be integrated into safety measures for devices, and the use of the software should be discussed with teens prior to installation. Teens need to know that the software is being used as a safeguard…not a punishment. As teens get older, the tethers of monitoring should be loosened and eventually released, because, by age 18, the protection of childhood evolves into the legal responsibilities of adulthood.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and parents should use this important awareness campaign to not only discuss bullying and cyberbullying but all the dangers of the online world. While monitoring software can give parents peace of mind, only education and empowerment can give teens the knowledge they need to navigate the wired world without a safety net.