Technology

Site helps parents watch kids' social network activity

Monday, September 12, 2011

Facebook and other social networks are where kids congregate these days. A San Bruno company called SocialShield is helping parents keep their children safe.

Parents and teachers are constantly telling kids "be careful what you post on Facebook." SocialShield summarizes your kid's activity on social networks on a weekly basis -- sort of like a credit report. Your child even gets a score between 1 and 10 -- 10 being very good and anything below 6 should be of concern to parents.

Parents have many concerns when it comes to social networks and their kids.

"Just worried about the predators and her not being able to take back something she says and regrets," parent Cheri Chiu asid.

SocialShield is a San Bruno Internet company that monitors the online behavior of your kids and their friends.

"Right now we work with Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Formspring," SocialShield co-founder Noah Kindler said.

Once a week parents get a summary report. It 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 said.

Say 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," SocialShield co-founder Arad Rostampour said.

More critical alerts are sent out immediately.

The website also checks for cyber-bullying. It even tells you if one of their friends has posted something inappropriate.

If SocialShield thinks a stranger is following your kid, it will alert you. And it also helps parents understand the teenage lingo.

"There are even acronyms like WMRL, 'want-to-meet-in-real-life.' Parents might not know what that means so we not only flag what we think is worrisome; we also explain it to the parents so they can understand why it's worrisome," Rostampour said.

Parents need to know their child's email address and password. The cost is $10 a month or $100 dollars a year.

This is only for parents, not just for anyone who might want to check on another person's social network activity. In March the two co-founders were invited to the White House for the first anti-bullying summit -- something President Obama is very passionate about.

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Tags:
children, internet, social media, cyberbullying, facebook, twitter, san bruno, technology, lyanne melendez
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