Parents Need A Lesson in Monitoring Software Technology

Bob Sullivan at MSNBC did a very length in-depth piece on parents’ misunderstanding of tools available to them to help keep their kids safe online… i.e. monitoring software (have I mentioned PC Pandora is the best?). Unfortunately, he goes to the regurgitating media go-to person, who has schilled for our competitors in the past, but don’t let that deter you from reading this ultra fine piece. There is also a short video segment that accompanies.

Now, rather than paste the entire thing below, as it is long, I want to skip to the technology part and comment – much like I did yesterday, but to a lesser extent.

So…

What you don’t know can hurt kids
Parents must understand online tools to protect their children

By Bob Sullivan, MSNBC

Use technology to fight technology

Many authorities suggest using technology to combat technology. Parents [should] regularly Google their children’s names, nicknames, even addresses, to see if anything unsavory has been posted about them. Others recommend filtering software, which limits the things kids can do online, and the information they can reveal about themselves.

About 75 percent of the parents responding to an informal MSNBC survey conducted three years ago said they’d consider using software to limit their child’s ability to communicate with others over the Internet. Filtering software like [PC Pandora], for example, can be set to prevent children from even typing personal information such as their name, address and phone number. But users were evenly split over whether they’d read their child’s e-mail, as the FBI suggests in its Parent’s Guide to the Internet.

“I _HONESTLY_ wonder if most of you realize what you are saying when you say read your kids e-mail,” said David Weaver on bulletin board that was hosted by MSNBC.com. “Reading a kid’s e-mail is like: Reading normal mail they send Eavesdropping on all their conversations Picking up another phone line when they are on the phone.”

Are you serious? It is NOTHING like reading normal mail, which is sent to ONE person and not to millions (or seen by, rather)… and guess what smart-alec, my parents DID pick up the phone to tell me to get off the phone, but they also knew who I was talking to. I didn’t randomly dial up strangers, nor did strangers randomly call the house looking for a young kid. Get your analogies straight…

One response: “Hands off parenting is not the answer. Blind trust and faith are why you see kids pictures on the back of milk cartons. Now, keep in mind I am not going to go through all their mail every night. They should just be prepared to answer for anything if and when I do.”

THANK YOU!

But while three-quarters of MSNBC respondents said they’d consider technological help, few parents actually use it — under 5 percent, according to some surveys. These programs work in a variety of ways, but generally either block your computer from a predetermined set of yucky Web sites; limit your computer to a predetermined list of Web sites; or block individual Web pages with offensive words. It’s easy to see the limitations of all three, and apparently parents have, too.

This means that fewer than 5% of parents (asked) have the balls to be parents. Truly sad. And they wonder why their kids are messing up their lives, addicted to the Internet, and/or meeting strangers. Monitoring software takes the guesswork out of parenting so you can verify and have proof. It makes you a more effective and better parent.

Some [parents] mistakenly believe the software is too technical to use or easy for clever kids to foil. Or they shrug and say, “I trust my kid.”

PC Pandora is TOO easy to use. The only excuse for not using it is laziness. If you know how to open word and type a letter, or open outlook and send an email, you can open PC Pandora and see who your child is talking to and what they are doing online.

But experts say parents often aren’t really aware of the extent of the trouble their kids can get in on the Internet… Here’s a collection of suggestions from several experts:

  • There is no substitute for keeping up with the technology. Don’t shrug or say it’s beyond you. If it is, ask your children to train you. That will make sure you keep up with them.
  • Learn how to examine your Web browser’s “History” files, or cache. Even if you don’t do it, make sure your children know it’s possible for you to know where they’ve been.
    Kids know how to delete this!!! But if you have
    PC Pandora, not only will you be able to see it, but also you can catch them trying to cover their tracks!!
  • Look around your desktop, start menu or applications folder for suspicious programs. (see PC Pandora)
  • Keep abreast of all your child’s e-mail accounts; understand that free Web e-mail may allow your child to have plenty of e-mail accounts you don’t know about.
  • If your child will chat, take some time to come up with an alias, or fake name. One person suggests you give them a fake address and phone number so, if they’re being harassed, they have a way of vacating the situation.
    Awesome idea!
  • Play around in Usenet and IRC chat rooms so you can talk to your children intelligently about them, and perhaps decide to ban their use. Contact your Internet provider to see what kind of Usenet groups are available.
  • Do the things you would normally do in the real world. Get to know your children’s cyberfriends — certainly don’t let them meet anyone in person without your attendance. Because in the end, computers don’t hurt kids: People hurt kids.

Most of the bulleted points above could be done easier and more effective with monitoring software like PC Pandora. For parents to not be watching and not paying attention (in some way shape or form, whether you use software or not) is just irresponsible and borderline-abusive. If keeping a kid out of school for a day to go to a theme park can be considered child abuse (which is absurd), then so should letting them walk through the Internet door in your house unsupervised be. This isn’t fear mongering; this is common sense in the 21st century.


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