I was in a meeting yesterday that mentioned a business in town that makes their primary product to spy on your child.  They do it at your request… and say it’s to protect your child from exploitation.  As a parent of three boys, two that have were teens, what I forsee is a lot of kids that will not trust their parents again for a long time.  Additionally kids that have absolutely no freedom in my opinion, take off and run wild as soon as they get a chance at freedom. IMG_3079(1) IMG_3078

I was very lucky to know how to keep an eye on my kids tech use myself, but even knowing how, I didn’t monitor them 24/7.  I wanted them to have some freedom.  My boys each had their own domain starting at an early age, and access to the internet starting early.  We also had discussions about internet safety and how easy it is to pretend to be someone your not when online.  Internet crime was a popular discussion in our house as well as a few movies like Hackers.

With the recent stories like the one about the 13 year old in the news that was lured off by older kids she met online, the online social networks are pretty scary.  When I was a teenager, my mother lectured me on the danger of going off with people I met at the roller skating rink….  and other places around town that kids met.  At the time a typical Friday night could involve cruising up and down main street, stopping in parking lots at night to talk to people that you didn’t know.  It was rare for things to happen, but without the internet the stories didn’t spread as easily as they do now either.

Now parents are limited more by their own knowledge of the technology. Kids pick up computers and devices and quickly get them all figured out, parents are just lost… For every technology that parents come up with to track kids, kids will come up with a technology to circumvent it.  Think calculator app that was really a photo sharing app!

Parents should :

  1. Have open discussions with your children about the dangers of social media
  2. Talk to your teens (and pre-teens about social networks)
  3. Read up on Social Networks
  4. Give your teens (and pre-teens) some freedom
  5. Make sure your children understand that they can talk to you (without punishment) about questions and concerns and what they are doing
  6. Don’t over-react to what your child admits (no matter how scared it makes you!)

A forensic scientist pulls out all the information they can find, providing you with data. From the website in this case, it sounds like for their cheapest price they will give you a list of who your child is talking to (contacts on their phone – my phone bill has that) and the list of contacts.  For more money they will get you a list of what apps your child has on their device (see below) – maybe even deleted info, a history of activity (history is under a menu item if you want to find it yourself).  Really they are going to get on your child’s device and tell you everything they can find out about it for you and give you a list for that one time.    A little research and you can do it yourself when you want…

The question is how much should you invade your child’s privacy?  When I was a teen this would have been the equivalent of reading a diary… Not that mom’s didn’t do that too!  How do you decide when your relationship with your child has reached the point that you need to take this step?  When you do, how to keep yourself from letting them know what you know (unless what you find out pushes you to the point of necessity to speaking up)

Good business plan?  Would you use a service like this?