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How to Monitor and Track Kids’ Online Activity

Keeping your kids safe online involves many moving parts, one of which is monitoring what they’re doing. The internet is a vast place where kids need to know boundaries, rules and precautions—just like in the real world, as we note in recent bestseller Parenting High-Tech Kids: The Ultimate Internet, Web, and Online Safety Guide.

If you want to monitor your family’s online use, there are many resources such as Web Watcher, Net Nanny and CyberSitter for computers, and Mobicip for mobile devices, which gives you the ability to keep an eye on what’s happening on your smartphone even when you’re not around.

Wise parents will note that phones are, in fact, among today’s fastest-growing threat areas, and may someday eclipse even computers as the leading battleground upon which wars against malware and spam will be fought. Knowing this, you’ll want to keep them guarded. Thankfully, many tools are available to help provide security and peace of mind here, including free apps that allow parents to keep an eye on kids’ smartphone activities.

“Parents know that they need to be involved in their kids’ digital lives, and most actually set and discuss house rules for computer use and Internet browsing,” says Marian Merritt, Norton Internet Safety Advocate. “But to make those rules work, you also need to extend them to your child’s mobile phone where so much Web browsing takes place.” Luckily, a growing number of mobile phones come pre-equipped with solutions by manufacturers like Lookout, courtesy of cell phone providers. Companies like ESET, McAfee, Kaspersky, Trend Micro and more also make family control a priority, and offer software packages that can help.

Taking advantage of the GPS technology contained in smartphones is also a great way that parents can keep tabs on their kids. As an example, Location Labs offers a suite of digital parenting tools at LocationLabs.com that provides parents with the ability to locate nearly any phone in real time without installing any software on the phone being tracked. But in addition to tracking children’s movement, parents can also setup alerts to update them whenever their child arrives at a preset destination, such as school or a relative’s house. Boundaries can additionally be created to notify parents when a child leaves a designated area, and locations can be saved to review later.

Many third-party solutions are available to the concerned parent in the form of specialized hardware, software, apps and online services. All are part of a growing range of options that you now have at your fingertips to call upon on-demand, should the need arise.

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