What was that you said? And how I monitor my kids onlinePosted by MomOnMars on July 25, 2011
About a month ago, I received an invitation to try out a new online program from an Austin-based company, InfoGlide. I get quite a few requests. This one had me at the word “monitor.” And again at the word “free.”
Kids are going to get on it whether we want them there or not. We can facilitate and monitor. Or they can sneak around behind our backs. They are likely far more tech savvy than we are. And what they don’t do under our noses, they are certainly going to be exposed to at their friends’ houses. And I’m going to tell you this now…Facebook is world’s safer than Google+ and other networks I’ve played around with.
I’ve used several different forms of monitoring. My standard rule is that I must know Twirl’s username and password. That’s the easiest was to track (especially the ever-illusive instant messaging portion of Facebook). There are no computers allowed behind locked bedroom doors. And parental controls are active on all computers in our home.
However, MinorMonitor is an interesting addition. I like that it gives me proactive alerts and an dashboard roll up of trigger words. It is hyper-sensitive, offering up the idea that the word “Jackson” in posts might be indicative of drug references and the word “hate” might be an indication of cyberbullying. Since Twirl has been the victim of cyberbullying before, I found this to be particularly helpful. In this instance, the word was simply the answer to a questionnaire, but I liked that the tool picked it up. In addition, I’m told MinorMonitor has been built with unique self-learning and natural language analytics that make it smarter over time, which means it will provide a more accurate analysis and fewer false alarms as I give it input on each instance of flagging.
I like this technology. But it’s a lot like floaties. It does not replace good, old-fashioned, hands-on parental monitoring. It’s one more tool to help; one more set of eyeballs. I still plan on logging directly into my daughter’s Facebook account and poking around. She calls it stalking. I call it parenting.
One day, she’ll be too old and wise to listen to me. For now, I can guide her. Protect her. Teach her. I’m going to take the opportunity while it’s still there. Before it’s too late.
Fun (and Safe) Stuff Online for Busy Kids
All of these sites are created specifically with kid safety in mind. All have comprehensive privacy protection and registration processes that are designed to protect children from cyber bullying, online predators, spamming and abuse.
Innerstar University — by American Girl, for girls 3-12 where young girls can participate in fun and enriching activities to boost their confidence and strength.
Whyville – by far, one of the best sites around. Designed by a computational neuroscientist right here in San Antonio, it is a virtual city, populated by some 6.5 million kids from around the world who engage in constructive educational activities while promoting socially responsible behavior. The citizens of Whyville interact with each other while participating in activities that range from science and math to art, civics, and economics. Examples include science simulations in angular momentum, art activities like designing your own avatar and visiting the Getty Museum, writing for the town newspaper, playing multiplayer games such as checkers, and treasure hunts that take you around the globe. I *LOVE* this site!
Everloop – If your teen is not quite of age for Facebook, but you want them to get their feet wet and learn the basics, how about Everloop as a first step? It’s an online social community platform for tweens between the ages of 8 – 13 that allows them to share content, communicate in real-time. No grownups allowed.