Keeping up with what your kids are doing online is becoming harder and harder. If they have a device with an internet connection, they can have unfiltered access to the world and this can be both a good and bad thing. Not only do they know more about tech than you ever will, they speak the language in a way that they can run circles around you with minimal effort. Admit it, not only do you have no idea what they are doing but also, you don’t know where they are doing it. Let me explain.

A paradigm change

The old advice was, become friends with your kids on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and know what they are doing on Instagram. This may still work in some cases but the reality is that we need a paradigm change. We have to admit that we have no idea what they are doing online or where they are doing it. The recent wave of Facebook suicides shows us that monitoring your kids activity in one or two social networks might not cut it. We need to stop just monitoring the apps they are using and we need to monitor the device. What do I mean by that?

When you monitor the actual phone, computer or tablet, you can see what they are doing no matter what app they are using. If you really want to know what’s going on with your kid’s life, if they are being bullied, if they are the bully, if they are being harassed or are trying to explore sites that are not age appropriate, you need to stop pretending you know anything and need to become your own spy agency. How do you do that?

To really know what’s going on, you need to be able to monitor:

  • The sites they are visiting
  • The apps they are using
  • How they are using them
  • The social networks or social apps they are using
  • The pictures they are taking
  • The pictures they are sharing
  • The messages that they are sending and receiving
  • Understand each and every one of the apps they have installed
  • And of course, understand the shorthand they use to communicate, it’s not good enough to decipher the Japanese naval code if you don’t speak Japanese.
  • The locations they are physically visiting

What tools can you use?

The tools that you need to monitor your teenager’s digital activity are evolving and we need to understand that these tools, for the most part, have a cost. They are not free, but they are worth it.

The tools install software on the device, be it a computer, tablet or a phone. This software reports the information to a centralized server and then, this data is displayed on a dashboard. It looks complicated, but it really isn’t.

Here are my top 3 recommendations:

1-    Qustodio

2-    Teensafe

3-    Kidlogger

It’s up to you if you want to inform your kids about installing these monitoring apps or if you want to give them partial information or none. If they have their own passwords on their devices and you don’t have a way to get in, you need to have a different conversation.

With the newfound knowledge of what your kids are trying to do online and in their daily communications, you’ll be able to get a glimpse at their digital life and then make informed decisions about your next steps as a parent. We are no longer living in the times where kids are playing outside in the neighborhood with their friends and we know all about their parents and families. If you truly want to know what’s going on, arm yourself with the tech tools to do so.