More devices in the home make child internet safety a challenge

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - As if parenting wasn't hard enough - technology keeps making it harder.

Since the early days of the internet parents have been fighting a battle to keep their kids safe online. It's a war they're swiftly losing with each new device brought into the home.

It used to be parents could become friends with their child on Facebook and get a pretty good idea of what they were up to. Now with so many applications and devices parents are finding it nearly impossible. PC's, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and even the iPod touch all offer kids a way to connect.

A new study by the NPD Group estimates there are nearly half a billion web-capable devices in U.S. households. That means families have an average of 5.7 devices capable of connecting to the internet in each home.

Tech consultant Kirk Caskey of KC Technologies in Carbondale says parents can install all the parental controls they want, but to truly know your child's on-line life there's no substitute for old fashioned cyber snooping.

"For the most part my generation is totally unaware of what their kids are doing online and what they're doing with their connected devices," said Caskey. "I can tell you they're definitely unaware of what they're doing with their laptops; I see them in here all the time."

Caskey says parents often bring in their child's computer for maintenance. On them he says he sometimes finds things like illegally downloaded content and pornography.

Caskey says if parents install parental controls they need to keep in mind they need to install it on every internet-ready device in the home. He also strongly suggests parents password protect those controls because even if they think they're tech savvy, their kids are probably smarter when it comes to technology.

"Password protect it with a good password. Password is not a password," said Caskey. "Keep an eye on it and make sure it hasn't been disabled. I had an issue with one of my boys. He was smart enough to get around it and disable it so he could download games he really didn't need to be downloading."

Plus, Caskey warns, in densely populated neighborhoods kids can easily get around parental controls set on their home Wi-Fi by accessing a neighbor's unprotected network.

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