The emergence of the internet, and associated technologies like email and instant messaging, present problems for today’s parents that were unimaginable just twenty years ago. Children use computers for homework, surf the web at their leisure and socialize through instant messaging – all activities that are often outside direct parental control and by themselves leave little or no record of their occurrence.
Some parents attempt to solve the problem by banning computer use entirely or allowing it only when a parent directly supervises, but most find this is not a realistic solution and places their child at an academic and social disadvantage compared to other children. On the other hand, unfettered access to a computer with access to the internet poses real dangers to children. Consider the following:
– Computer-sex offenders almost always meet potential victims in instant message chat rooms. Chat rooms grant these predators anonymity and a belief their instant messages are not monitored or recorded.
– The average age of first exposure to pornography is over the internet is 11 years old.
– The FBI recommends you monitor your child’s access to all types of live electronic communications, including instant message and email.
– One out of five children were aggressively pushed to have face-to-face meetings with strangers in the last year, often via instant messaging.
– Because young people often find instant messaging easier than talking face to face, they often say things they wouldn’t say in person. Cyber-bullying has become a new form of harassment.
– While online predators usually gradually seduce their targets through attention, affection, kindness, and even gifts, some predators work faster than others, engaging in sexually explicit conversations immediately.
Many parents are finding an acceptable middle-ground between no supervision at all and direct personal control of their children’s computer use is to use inexpensive and readily available Key Logger software. Key Logger software monitors a child’s actions on the computer and stores this information for later review by a parent. Quality varies, but Key Logger software is usually easy to install and setup, requires no advanced knowledge by the user, and often can be purchased for less than $30 (one vendor of keylogging software is PCSentinel Software). Outside of physically being present and watching while a child uses the computer, Key Logger software is the only way for a parent to know exactly how their child is using their computer.
Unfortunately, some parents are reluctant to use Key Logger software because they feel they are they are spying on their children, or that their children are good kids and don’t require this level of supervision. However, the fact remains that even “good” or “smart” children are still just children and often make, or can be induced to make, very bad choices with awful consequences. Even savvy children who feel they are protecting their private information from strangers in chat rooms often don’t realize how much personal information they may reveal over many conversations – and predators are known to keep detailed files on their victims, often piecing together small bits of information gathered over many conversations to construct an outline of a child’s daily routine and whereabouts.
Ultimately, it is hard to argue that key logging software is not a necessary tool for every parent with children who have access to the internet. Simply put, it is the parent’s responsibility to know with certainty what is going on in their children’s lives – and given the dangers of unmonitored internet access the only way parents really know how their children are using their computer is through key logging software.