Monitoring your children’s online activity

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We at Cyology Labs have always said that structured surveillance of your children or teenagers and limiting online time is the key to protecting our children. Yet there are always those who believe tracking, monitoring and checking out their activities is just as feasible.

In other words, parents who instinctively protect their kids are being encouraged to spy on their Internet activities. What parent wants their child harmed, harassed, hassled and victimized by the unscrupulous? We always talk to our kids about drugs, drinking and smoking, and we expect curfews to be respected. “Don’t talk to strangers” applies to online activities and on the street.

We know that we cannot always be online and that humans are social, so face-to-face or online contact will happen. To spy would mean 24/7 spying of activity on iPhones, tablets, websites, and text messages, and then searching for teen chat sites, like Facebook, Twitter and so on. 

The once-safe fail protection will not work: “Go to your room!” We begin to think about the computer at a friend’s house, school, or bus. What about those Wi-Fi hotspots? So as parents, we are at crossroads!

How far is too far?

You can only sometimes be on top of things. Our teenagers will find ways around spying. I am exaggerating about installing particular spyware. It is presumptuous to think that all parents spy and children and all teenagers will resent it and be defiant. 

We assume that talking with kids or teenagers about the potential dangers online is enough to ensure children will delete, block or ignore strangers online. It is also an assumption that every child out there is irresponsible and looking for new ways to trick Internet filters and then purposely visit inappropriate sites.

But the reality is that Internet filtering and parental control software is more straightforward, so parents don’t have to be computer experts. Some filters can be customized, allowing all traffic through while flagging parents when a specific flagged activity occurs, like inappropriate words during IM chats or new and unknown incoming email addresses.

We do not argue that talking with your child about the growing dangers of the Internet. That middle ground is to cultivate a relationship of honesty and communication, which can be challenging, a given.

We don’t think that spying will ever be effective. A practical solution is to talk to your children. From a young age, our children will understand that people on the Internet could be deceptive and that we shouldn’t share personal information.  

Monitoring your child’s online activity

Structured surveillance of activities can go a long way toward protecting our children. Our kids have never been more connected. Everything has an internet connection: iPhones, tablets, websites, gaming, text messaging, etc.

It can be overbearing. If parents are encouraged to spy on their children’s activity 24/7, when does it become snooping? Don’t children have a right to privacy to some degree as well?

Filters can be customized, allowing all traffic through but alerting the parents when the monitoring software has flagged something suspicious. Things to set up an alert for include inappropriate words via IM chats, new email addresses or phone numbers, and terms of a sexual nature, etc., but discussing with your child or teenager is an excellent place to start when it comes to improving online safety.

Following cyber-safe best practices like monitoring can help protect your family against cybercrime.

To learn more about consumer concerns, you can download our mobile app, FRAUDSTER, available on Apple and Android. You can learn more at

If you’ve already downloaded the FraudsterApp, click the training icon on the home screen to learn to protect yourself. 

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.