Some people believe that monitoring your kids’ online activities crosses the line of privacy or trust. But monitoring and controlling online activities is, essentially, no different than controlling access to the cookie jar or TV or even locking a liquor cabinet.

Which brings me to a way that parents can always know exactly what their kids are doing in cyberspace. And control when, too. This is possible due to a type of software known as “parental control” that monitors the goings-on of any connected device in the home network, in concert with a mobile app.

Parental control software is very important to most parents, and they’re always looking for the latest technology. The Pew Research Center’s recent report says that 95% and 93% of U.S. parents have spoken to their teenager about sharing-safety and appropriate online behavior, respectively.

Gadgets like this include Circle and KoalaSafe (easy setup, $99 each). With these, you can even set certain activities to be off limits when you apply filters. When you see your teen daughter’s activity going to a “pro-ana” site, you can bar her from getting on.

Circle

  • Scans all traffic on your home’s network.
  • Traffic data is not stored on Circle’s servers.

KoalaSafe

  • Provides a Wi-Fi just for kids and tracks only that.
  • Uses cloud servers for monitoring.

From your mobile you can watch what your kids are up to in cyberspace, but these gadgets can’t monitor or control 100% their activities (such as Snapchat)—but will do enough for you to know that the cookie jar, figuratively speaking, is bolted shut with a good lock.

Even if your child is a goody two shoes, they may still accidentally get on a site you’d never want to show your grandmother. Circle and KoalaSafe will help control this scenario. This software can also track how much time kids spend with certain activities such as being on Facebook, and you can set time limits.

But remember, parental control software, no matter how good it is, should be seen as an adjunct to one-on-one communication with your kids, not the replacement of it. Parental software isn’t just for “bad” kids, but serves as an extra tool for parents that keeps up with today’s technology.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to TheBestCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention.

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