Technology News

Parents getting new power to monitor kids online

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

A Bay Area company is helping parents keep track of their children's internet use every time they go online.

Socialshield summarizes your kid's activity on social networks on a weekly basis.

It works like a credit report - your child gets a score between 1 and 10, with 10 being very good and anything below 6 should be of concern to parents.

Parents like Clovis mom Kristin Doyle have many concerns when it comes to social networks and their kids.

"People friending her that aren't her friends and using words that shouldn't be used, like the f-word the s-word - you know," she said.

Doyle says she is constantly checking her 13-year old daughter Amanda's Facebook page for inappropriate comments or pictures.

But she knows she won't catch everything, and worries Amanda could get bullied online. That's where Socialshield comes in. The San Bruno internet company monitors the online behavior of your kids and their friends.

"Right now we work with Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and Formspring," Noah Kindler of Socialshield said.

Once a week parents get a summary report that highlights anything that can put your child at risk.

"So some examples of what we can find, if there is profanity we can tell the parents, if there is talk of drugs, violence or suicide we can alert the parents and we are pretty sophisticated that we can tell the difference between the word 'shoot' meaning 'I am going to shoot someone' and 'photo shoot,' a more benign use," Kindler explained.

If your child had a picture on his or her site, and it was tagged with words like "starving yourself" or "so wasted", that will appear in the summary report.

"One says hung-over, one says hammered, these are things that we flag and present to the parents," Arad Rostampour of Socialshield said.

The website also checks for cyber-bullying. It will also alert you if it thinks a stranger is following your child, and it helps parents understand teenage lingo.

Its online 'stranger-danger' that's of particular concern to Doyle.

"I'm really careful what she does and who she is friends with," she said.

To use the Socialshield parents need to know their child's email address and password. The cost is $10 a month or $100 dollars a year. Doyle says its a small price to pay for a little more piece of mind.

"I loved it, and I would do it in a heartbeat," she said.

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