Stories from Mom’s Protecting Kids Online

Last week I shared with you about a lunch I had with an FBI agent who was picking my brain about kids in today’s culture, the dangers they face, etc. This guy has helped develop a piece of software that helps parents monitor their kids’ browsing habits online. Many of you jumped onto the site to sign up for their free beta-test.

I told you that I’d provide you with some stories of real moms and dads who tried out this software called Parental Options. Interesting stuff. Here’s a few:

1)      My  husband and I were attending a  prayer vigil  at our church.  Our time slot was from 11:00 pm to midnight.  At about 11:30 pm, my cell phone began to vibrate.  Parental Options was sending me an alert that our son was on the computer.  We set usage parameters for his computer until 10:00 pm, and he was on the computer while we were away from home.  I sent a text home and the computer was turned off.
2)      There are a number of times where the software has helped us to know just how much time was spent on Facebook and other interesting websites vs. getting homework done.  We expect our kids will multi-task but it is an eye opener for us (and them) when you can take a look at something that is recording the frequency (and duration) of toggling between a word document and Facebook for example.  Healthy conversations are a result.  Parental Options software has facilitated our ability to talk about the content available via the internet just as we would about TV or movies.  Our kids are not navigating this part of their lives alone.
3)      My daughter was engaged in IM chat in Facebook around 2am with someone that she had just met at school.  (She was up doing homework). The Parental Options program highlighted all of the words in the chat conversation that are “grooming” words (words that signal that a person is trying to get to know someone, and establish a trusted relationship with them).  The program was teaching us what to look for when reviewing her activity. 
4)      I got the software just to check on my kids’ internet browsing from time to time.  Unfortunately, I found that one of my boys had visited some pornographic sites. (Parental Options says that viewing browser history alone isn’t completely reliable because kids can use multiple browsers and erase some history while keeping the rest. I didn’t know that.) 
5)      My son was playing an online game and chatting there with a “friend” from school.  This “friend” was bullying him and using language that would tear apart anyone’s self confidence. This was caught and addressed because the software highlighted some of the words that were used in the conversation. ( At this point, not all bullying language will be highlighted because people can be vicious in such diverse ways.  But, with the software running, you always have the opportunity to scan the chat and ask your child about the person they were interacting with.)   

Here’s the web site where you can read a little more about it: ParentalOptions.com  …I’m pretty impressed with what I have seen so far.

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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This entry was posted in Bullying/Cyberbullying, Discussion Ideas, Family, Internet, Parenting, Social Media, Youth Culture. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Stories from Mom’s Protecting Kids Online

  1. Tonya Berry says:

    Dude that is way cool!

  2. David says:

    Sounds great. I’m looking forward to this being fine tuned and available to purchase when my son gets a little older. You can’t always stand over them, and probably shouldn’t. But software like this, will give a good pulse of where your kid’s heart is. Press on…

  3. John says:

    This would work great with most kids that aren’t very technologically advanced, but what of the kids that know how to use live cds? I know of some kids that knew how to use them when they were 13. Of course there are ways to keep them from booting to a live cd, but physical access to a computer equals “owning/doing whatever you want”.

  4. It’s a crazy world out there John. We could come up with the perfect computer monitoring system, and our kids can still watch late night Cinemax at their friends house, or go really ‘old school’ and flip through a Playboy magazine.

    What most kids need is parents who love them, spend time with them, and have regular conversations about these kind of decisions.

    That’s one reason I like this Parental Options program. It provides some good springboards for discussion- as you can see from the stories above.

  5. Araceli says:

    Hello, I clicked on the website provided, but it is no longer available. Did the company change their domain?