The Secret Lives of Teens Part 1:Keeping Track of Your Kids Online

The Secret Lives of Teens Part 1:Keeping Track of Your Kids Online
By: CJ Cassidy
How do you keep track of your kids online?
The Internet's everywhere; it's an indispensible tool for kids.
Most use it for school or social networking, but there can be a dark side to the World Wide Web!
Computer experts say it's hard to know how a child's mind works, so with so much available at their fingertips, and social sites open to anyone, it's best to prepare for as many different possibilities as you can.
"My typing disturbs others when we have it in the family room, so I have a computer in my room," 15-year-old Jill Bess said.  She's quick to add she would never violate her parent's trust when she gets online.
But computer experts like Andrew Bard say your children could easily end up victims, if you don't track their path.
Bard says there are many ways to monitor online activity.
"I don't recommend any software to do it.  If you're going to do it, do it with hardware.  That way you can remove a device from the machine, and the machine won't work," he said.
For starters, there's the "Kid Safe USB Lock."  It actually allows parents to lock up their computer when they choose to, and all it takes is removing the key.
"The next version that's coming out in about 60 days will allow you to prevent your kids from accessing certain versions of the computer, so they can still type papers and so on," Bard said.
Another little key, The KeyCatcher, allows you to figure out your kid's passwords, and monitor password protected sites.
"It will capture any keystroke on the machine.  It just captures what's typed, so you can look for the user ID, and next thing down would be the password."
That seems sneaky, but in this day and age, Bard says it's not a bad idea.
If you don't want to spend any money ,you can check out Google Desktop free of charge.
"It allows you to see a browse timeline, the time and date of everything sent, every message received," he said.
Jill Bess points out teens value their privacy, especially when they're on sites like MySpace and Facebook, but do they deserve it?  You decide.
"Some people are open about pictures they put on Facebook.  They might even be illegal.  You wouldn't want parents to see that, because kids could get in trouble," Bess said.
You can also use some software programs to make sure your kids don't get into trouble online. Another computer expert recommends a program called "Pandora" that is almost the same as Google Desktop but doesn't have an icon to show it's being used, and it comes with a price tag.
It all just depends on what you're comfortable with.