Web Safety for Your Kids

There is no fighting it… Our kids jump online as soon as they can, signing up for Facebook, MySpace accounts and to countless other sites unknown to us adults.  And of course, as parents, this raises legitimate concerns for cyberbullying, sexting, and other inappropriate or potentially unsafe behavior our kids might – unwittingly – exhibit while using their electronic gadgets and computers.

One option is to request the list of passwords for all accounts that you tween or teen may have on the internet and start monitoring those accounts. The ones they told you about! As you may know, this quickly grows tiresome and creates much tension with the child being so monitored. Understandably.

Or, there is SafetyWeb.com, a very recently launched subscription service ($10/month) that I just learned about that automatically monitors a child’s online activities and immediately red-flags parents of any and all potential threats to their child; and that is without us parents having to monitor every post. It assists parents to keep track of their kids’ online and even cell phone activity. Who are your kids hanging out with on the web? Who are they texting the most? Do you know their “friends”? Where are they from?

Our kids are talking to a lot more people than we ever did when we were their age and that includes a lot of strangers. They are broadcasting their activities, their location and sometimes, very intimate thoughts and photos. And, since teens have a propensity for poor judgment, their online behavior and the content they post could cause them harm down the road. Unfortunately, such content posted to the Internet does not usually “expire”.

Besides alerting parents to cyber-bullying, cyber-stalking, sexting and the like, SafetyWeb also helps parents guard their child’s reputation by flagging postings that could potentially harm their child’s future. Think college and job applications.

“Everything that kids do online today can have serious consequences tomorrow,” says Michael Clark, co-founder of SafetyWeb.com.  ”More and more, college admissions and potential employers are going beyond the resume and searching candidates’ online activity and history.”

SafetyWeb uses only the kid’s email address, not the passwords. It threads carefully not to cross the line of spying/not spying. What’s in the public domain is what you can see as parents and determine from there what can put your child at risk. SafetyWeb scours the internet for questionable activity, making parents aware of videos and photos their kids share publicly, cyber-bullying, potential internet addiction, when privacy settings are changed on social networking sites, and more. The service also goes a step further, helping parents keep tabs on their child’s mobile calls and text messages.

Plus, the site (which by the way, was founded by two extremely reputable high level “web” guys – read about them here) offers lots of resources and support on all web and social media concerns that parents may have about their teens and college bound kids (i.e. online reputation & college admissions).

Sigh of relief.

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