Venturing online @Safely

standard December 8, 2011 Leave a response

When I was a kid we lived in a tall house in London. Each floor had one phone; the one on the kids’ floor happened to be a good ol’ corded model firmly attached to the wall in the hallway with a not so long cord. I wasn’t old enough to be on the phone 24/7, but the calls I did get had to be taken sitting on the stairs in the very middle of the house.

Privacy wasn’t exactly at an optimum.

Back then I found it irritating that my sisters could hear every embarrassing word of my truly un-embarrassing call to my friends. Today I just wish that we could rig a similar system for when my kids get old enough to receive calls.
It’s not that I want to spy on them; it’s just that I want them to know that I could potentially overhear stuff. It’s a checks and balances kind of system. If mommy could potentially hear something you don’t want her to hear, it’s easy, just don’t say it.

Sadly (for me, not for them) my girls will be pre-teens and teens in the Internet and cell phone age. They’ll be able to communicate with their friends through text, tweet, Facebook, and whatever other system is invented and implemented in the next 10 years.

Let me be clear, I trust my kids, I trust that I’m teaching them to make smart choices, I trust that I’m teaching them to communicate openly with me, I trust that this won’t change radically over the coming years. That said, I also know that it’s good for kids to have an “out.”

“I can’t say stuff like that, my mom might be listening.”

“I can’t do that, my mom might find out.”

And frankly, it doesn’t hurt to have a system set up that allows for conversation starters.

My kids are far from being old enough to be allowed on Facebook, but I already worry about the day they will get their account. I know they’re trustworthy, but the same way I worry about the day they’ll drive because of the other drivers, I worry about them being online because of the other Internet users.

So, just like I’ll be teaching them to drive, first by example, then by being there with them, and finally by letting them venture out for short trips to grow their confidence and allow them to gain experience, I’m going to hold their hand as they enter the world of social media.

To test it out, I signed up for the Safely Social Monitor, a service that is part of a new suite of mobile, social and location-based family safety technologies from Safely that increases parents’ awareness, and helps them guide their kids through each stage of growth.

Guess most of my friends are women about my age! Reassuring really!

This brand new service scours your loved one’s Facebook profile and rates the activity, the friends, the photos, and anything else a parent might want to know. It offers a great tool that you can use to help your child better understand the ramifications of their online activity.

Look! 95% Good! Someone tell Sa

And if, like me, all this kids online stuff sends you into a panic, Safely has created the Safely Spotlight, a free digital parenting guide with tips and advice. The Spotlight is available on Safely’s Facebook page, where you should be active so you can start by modeling smart online behavior for your child!

Please note, while I was compensated for this post about Safely’s Social Monitoring service, the thoughts and opinions contained here are mine and mine alone. Since C and Little L are way too young to use Facebook yet, I ran the system against my own account. The screenshots you see above are of the Safely report on my account.