Monitoring Your Children’s Online Activities During the Summer

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At Cyology Labs, we firmly believe that implementing structured surveillance of your children’s online activities and setting limits on their internet usage is crucial for their protection. However, there are always differing opinions on whether tracking, monitoring, and checking their online behaviour is acceptable.

Some parents are encouraged to go beyond protective instincts and resort to spying on their children’s internet activities. After all, what parent wants their child to fall victim to harm, harassment, or exploitation by unscrupulous individuals? As we talk to our kids about the dangers of drugs, drinking, and smoking, we should also address the importance of online safety. The same “don’t talk to strangers” rule applies online and offline.

We acknowledge that it’s impossible for parents to be online 24/7, and we understand that humans are social beings, which means face-to-face and online interactions will occur. Constantly spying entails monitoring activity on iPhones, tablets, websites, and text messages and even searching for teen chat sites like Facebook and Twitter.

The traditional protection method, such as sending a child to their room, is no longer foolproof. We must consider the presence of computers at friends’ houses, schools, or on buses. What about Wi-Fi hotspots? As parents, we find ourselves at a crossroads.

The question is: How far is too far?

Parents can only be on top of things to a certain extent. Teenagers will always find ways to bypass surveillance. Installing specific spyware, as I mentioned earlier, is an exaggeration. It would be presumptuous to assume that all parents spy on their children, and it would be unfair to assume that all teenagers resent it and become defiant. It’s a tough dilemma for parents.

Simply talking to our kids or teenagers about the potential dangers online is insufficient to ensure they will delete, block, or ignore strangers online. Nor is it fair to assume that every child is irresponsible and actively seeks to bypass internet filters to visit inappropriate sites purposefully.

However, internet filtering and parental control software have become more user-friendly, eliminating the need for parents to be computer experts. Some filters can be customized, allowing all traffic while alerting parents when specific flagged activities occur, such as using inappropriate words during instant messaging chats or encountering new and unknown email addresses.

We are not suggesting that talking with your child about the growing dangers of the internet is unnecessary. The middle ground lies in cultivating an environment of honesty and open communication, which can undoubtedly be challenging.

We firmly believe that spying will never be an effective solution. Instead, practical measures involve having conversations with your children. From a young age, it is essential for our children to understand that people on the internet may not be who they claim to be, and sharing personal information should be avoided.

To help protect your child:

  1. Implement structured surveillance of their online activities to a reasonable extent.
  2. Recognize that our children are more connected than ever, with everything having an internet connection, from iPhones and tablets to websites, gaming, and text messaging.
  3. Find the right balance. While parents may need to monitor their children’s online behaviour 24/7, respecting their right to privacy is also important.
  4. Customize filters that allow all traffic but alert parents when the monitoring software detects something suspicious, such as inappropriate words in instant messaging chats or the appearance of new email addresses or phone numbers.
  5. Start by conversing with your child or teenager about online safety, establishing trust and fostering an environment of open communication.

By following these guidelines, we can work towards improving online safety for our children while maintaining healthy relationships based on trust and

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Terry Cutler

I’m Terry Cutler, the creator of Internet Safety University, an educational system helping to defend corporations and individuals against growing cyber threats. I’m a federal government-cleared cybersecurity expert (a Certified Ethical Hacker), and the founder of Cyology Labs, a first-line security defence firm headquartered in Montréal, Canada. In 2020, I wrote a bestselling book about the secrets of internet safety from the viewpoint of an ethical hacker. I’m a frequent contributor to National & Global media coverage about cyber-crime, spying, security failures, internet scams, and social network dangers families and individuals face daily.