How to Track Kids’ Online and Internet Activity

article-image

Modern Dad

News, reviews & trends for fathers – a contemporary parent’s perspective.

By now, most families have embraced the idea of keeping the family computer in a common area as one way to monitor their kids’ online activity, but laptops and smartphones have made the web accessible virtually anywhere. Since it’s a smart idea for parents to keep tabs on where their kids are going online, the reality of today’s mobile generation is that parents need technological help.  While we recommend conversation and open dialogue above all else, part of your family’s Internet agreement should also be that you will learn how to track and monitor kids’ online activity, including installing software that will provide access to records of all their Internet searches. That said, by all means, be up-front with your kids about this plan, as you don’t want them to think you are spying them, and also because many times the simple knowledge that their parents will be checking in is enough of a deterrent to keep children from going where they shouldn’t.

Even though many computers and web browsers come with these features built in, we recommend checking out these additional programs that provide monitoring and other safeguards to help kids have a positive online experience.

Web Watcher Kids

Web Watcher bills itself as an online chaperone, and encourages users to think of its software as a parenting tool.  It serves not only as a block against and filter for inappropriate websites, but records Internet and general computer usage, giving parents the option to block access to sites or activities based on what their kids are doing. Web Watcher costs about a hundred bucks, however, so peace of mind won’t come cheap.

Net Nanny

As one of the best-known brands of parental control and monitoring software, Net Nanny not only allows for tracking and viewing of kids’ online activity across all the popular social networks, but it also provides tools for positive and healthy Internet experiences for kids.  Utilizing Net Nanny’s timers, filters and porn blockers helps parents enjoy knowing that are kids are protected beyond just what they’re finding on their own in their monitoring reports.  There’s also NetNanny for mobile devices, too – an Android version is currently available, and an iOS version is coming soon.  Net Nanny costs $40 per year per computer and $20 per year per mobile device and makes a good beginning point if you’re looking to learn how to track and monitor kids’ online activity, and enjoy some control over Internet interactions and searches.

Cybersitter

Cybersitter offers a great value for families, with the ability to install it on up to three computers for $40 a year.  You can create your own custom block and allow lists, record e-mails and Facebook activity, and also set certain times when specific sites can be accessed (and when they can’t).   Some of the controls and features require parents to be more computer literate than the average person, but if you’re trying to keep up with your kids’ activity online, you need to be willing to expand your tech-savviness.

Norton Online Family

The Norton Online Family suite of products allows families to set time limits, filter web content and receive reports and summaries of usage and activity.  While the full range of services is only $30 a year, there’s also a free version which provides basic monitoring and limiting capabilities.  If you’re looking for a  great way to start monitoring to get a feel for it, Norton Online Family is a great option.

eBlaster

Designed for homes and small businesses, eBlaster captures incoming and outgoing e-mail, texts and chats from your PC, and can send you instant updates.  It also monitors activity across social networks such as Facebook and can send you daily updates (or hourly if you choose).  With a cost of $100, eBlaster seems best suited for those who suspect there may be a problem, but seems a little strong if you’re just trying to keep an eye on your kids.

Mobicip

Mobicip has emerged as a leader in smartphone monitoring and web filtering, allowing for broad blocking, filtering and parental controls, all of which can apply to all your family’s mobile devices.  And better yet, settings can be easily tweaked from a computer.  Mobicip offers online reports of activity and time logs, and can also send these out via scheduled e-mails.   Basic filtering is available for a one-time fee of $5, and the full suite of features costs $10 per year on top of that.

Be Sociable, Share!
About author

Johner Riehl

Johner Riehl is a freelance writer focusing on families, technology and online safety. As founder and editorial director for FamilyFriendlyApps.com and FamilyFriendlyVideoGames.com, sites that provide reviews and recommendations geared towards families, he examines hundreds of family-friendly games and apps every year. He’s also host of Parent Savers, a podcast aimed at helping parents of newborns, infants and toddlers. TWITTER: @FamilyTechDad

View all posts by Johner Riehl

Comments

No comments yet.

Be first to leave your comment!

Nickname:

E-mail:

Homepage:

Your comment:

Add your comment