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Five tools for monitoring your kids’ online presence

Paul Banas
Author Paul Banas
Submitted 30-08-2011

Anyone with a basic understanding of Facebook (and many of its surrounding controversies) knows that users have a substantial amount of control over their privacy settings. What does this mean for you as a dad? Your kids have the ability to hide their photos, wall posts and other intimate details from you if they choose (red flag: you see your son or daughter posting on an hourly basis, but the profile looks suspiciously bare when you view it). Here are five tools dads can use to outsmart their tech-savvy kids.

1. Norton Online Family: This software allows parents to see the content their kids are viewing on the web as well as some measure of their online personalities: profile pictures, etc. You can also set time limits to keep your kids' Facebook face-time in check.

2. TrueCare: This tool allows you to view your son or daughter's friends, tagged pictures and profiles. The program also allows you to create your own list of keywords and comes with a glossary of commonly used slang for the uninitiated.

3. SocialShield: This gives you up-to-the-minute information on any and all activity. It also comes with a background check feature if you're particularly worried about your kids rubbing online elbows with the likes of Tila Tequila.

4. ZoneAlarm SocialGuard: The Wall Street Journal's Walter S. Mossberg chose this program as the online safety solution that best "strikes a good balance between safety and privacy, between a parent's peace of mind and a teen's sense of freedom." It's set up to search for suspicious online activities, but not in a way that's not cumbersome or heavy-handed.

5. ScreenRetriever: This program actually gives you screen grabs of your child's online activity as well as the ability to block or approve certain sites. Designed to be a bit more "trust-friendly," it alerts kids that they're being monitored in the name of openness and transparency.

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