How to Monitor Kids on the Internet - Keep Track of Their Online Activities

If your kids are spending several hours a day on the Internet visiting various websites, entering chat rooms and talking to people they've never known or seen any of quite concerned about this, you're not alone. There are millions of parents all over the world who become worried when their children go online and interact with complete strangers. The Internet is a place where it's very easy to be anonymous. There lots of people pretending to be what they're not online. This leaves children especially younger children very vulnerable to all sorts of predators on the Internet. Every day we read about criminals targeting children on the internet. In January 2009, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children discovered that a man had posed as a female in an effort to communicate with victims, and police said he exchanged pornography over the Internet. The 38 year old man is wanted on child pornography charges. The latest trend among kids is to send their own nude pictures to each other. This fad known as 'sexting' has got many kids in trouble with the law. A 15-year-old Pennsylvania girl is facing child pornography charges for sending nude photos of herself to other kids. A 19-year-old Florida man got thrown out of college and has to register as a sex offender for 25 years because he sent nude pictures of his girlfriend to other teens. Read more at MSN.

It’s very natural to want to monitor kids on the internet.

CyberPatrol is a software that will let you monitor your kids on the internet. You'll be able to control which websites they see, monitor their usage and protect them from inappropriate websites. It's a software that every parent must have. 

Your kids could be signing up on Internet dating websites and providing more information about them than they should be. Many Internet dating websites, social networking websites such as Orkut , Facebook, MySpace or Twitter have many people posting exhaustive profiles, imparting personal information and placing photographs online.

While signing up with these social networking websites is not really a bad thing providing too much information about them and their family as a whole can lead to many avoidable situations such as identity theft, stalking and even more serious crimes. If you choose to monitor kids on the internet, you will be able to nip several possibilities in the bud. Kids being immature may not know how vulnerable they’re making themselves by making so much information available online.

As an example, if you one of your kids let it be known on the Internet that your entire family will be holidaying for two weeks next month, it's like inviting thieves to come calling in your absence. Cindy, a single mother struggling to run her home  talks about her 14-year-old kid posting a message on a social networking site about their financial troubles. Her son, Sam mentioned that his mother didn't want to buy him a video gaming machine because she said they couldn't afford to. He also mentioned that she was looking for a new job. Cindy's prospective employer hit upon this message and she got a raw deal when joining the new company. Cindy found that her employer had visited her son’s profile. The social networking site lets their users know who they’ve been visited by.

While it's difficult to police your children all the time about what they're doing on the Internet, it can help if you talk to them about the websites they be visiting online. Try not to be authoritarian or come across as intimidating. Rather discuss the websites that you have been visiting, e-mail them interesting features that you find online and discuss it later with them. Pull up a good video on YouTube and send them a link. When their trust and get to know how they're spending their time online. If your kids are very secretive when you ask them about the websites they visit, it should throw up a red flag. You must then seriously consider ways to monitor your kids on the internet.

If you find them quickly switching windows by pressing Alt + Tab when you walk into the room it probably means that they don't want you to see what they been browsing. If you kids stay up until very late visiting websites on the Internet, this is again a sign that they may be visiting websites they don't want you to know about. Staying up late every night will also affect the sleep button of your children and affect the performance of school. Even at their door is closed try to figure out whether you kids are still up and spending time on the internet.

You do not necessarily need software to monitor your kids and their internet activity. You can open the browser they use whether it is Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox and view the history of the websites that they been visiting. If you find that no history exists, that is a sign that your kids may have been deleting the history and wiping their tracks. Check the favorites in the websites that have been bookmarked. Most of these strategies are not going to really work with smart kids. What you need more than anything else is parental control software which should give you control over the Internet access you provide to your children. Even if you choose not to restrict Internet access or limit the amount of time they spend on the Internet, such software will at least give you an insight into their Internet surfing habits and let you monitor their usage. You'll know which are the websites they been visiting and how much time they've been spending online. If they have been browsing websites related to porn, gambling, drugs and other subjects that you would want to shield them from, this would be the best way to become aware about it. It would be impossible and impractical to ban Internet access totally for your children. This isn't really advisable either because the various positive effects of the Internet that can contribute to the growth of your children. Yet installing filters will let you kids know that you are concerned about their Internet surfing habits and are monitoring them.

Parental control software such as CyberPatrol is very effective in blocking inappropriate websites and helps you monitor every aspect of your kids’ internet usage. You can block any messages that contain specific words. You can prevent your personal information such as your phone numbers, Social Security numbers and other valuable information from being disseminated on the Internet via e-mail, chat rooms and instant messages. Internet filtering software usually depends on a very large database of websites that have been classified as adult or containing inappropriate content. Categorization takes place very exhaustively and the effectiveness of such filters is very high.

There are also key logging software that will allow you to monitor and track all the computer usage of your kids even when they’re offline. This goes several steps further than parental control software and will get you access to the user ids and passwords of your kids’ email accounts and social networking sites. This would however be a major privacy invasion and unless you have strong reasons to do so, it is not recommended because you kids would lose trust in you. Using such software you can track everything that you kids do on the computer, get access to their e-mail accounts and all the websites that require user id and password. You can get transcripts of all their chats and e-mails and monitor every single thing they do in the computer. Such software are known as key loggers and they log every single keystroke of the user including websites visited, user IDs and passwords and even make screen captures of the sites listed. It is possible to hide these programs so that the user on the computer isn't aware that all his activity is being logged. We reiterate that you need to think carefully about the use of such software because it can lead to a complete breakdown in trust between you and your kids, should they ever find out that you have been monitoring every single move they make.

Whether you use parental control software or keylogging software, it is imperative that as a parent, you monitor your kids on the internet and protect them from the various threats that they’re so unaware about.