Teens Internet Activities


#1

I’ve enjoyed reading some of the discussions here, found much of it helpful, and now would like to raise a topic that I’m dealing with now, as I’m curious about how others are approaching what has to be a common issue.

My kids are growing up - a 14 year old son and an 11 year old daughter. Over the years they have used our PC for a variety of activities, most of it pretty healthy, educational, or just fun. But they are now at ages where they might be more inclined to get into some online stuff that could lead to trouble, be it the extreme of predators, or some peer cyberbulling, porn, other potential embarrassing online incidents, or inappropriate relationships in general. There just are no boundaries, and yet I don’t want to stifle all of the good that they get from the PC.

After some thought and talking with some friends, I decided to install some software (Family Cyber Alert) that will monitor all of the PC activity. I don’t plan on snooping on private communications, but so far I feel good about just having greater visibility to what the kids are getting into. A couple nights a week when I’m catching up on e-mail or other matters with my PC, I’ll quickly pull up this program and glance at what the kids have been doing online, how much time they are spending, etc.

My expectation is that when I see something I’m not familiar with or as comfortable with, I’ll research it a bit (for example, I’ve taken the time to learn more about what Facebook is all about since it is a common teenage social forum), ask/talk to my kids about it, and if there are aspects of it which concern me, share those concerns with the kids - guide them, caution them, perhaps even establish new rules if certain activity could be more troublesome.

In this age of technology, with the savvy that kids have and I don’t, I feel this is a reasonable tool for me to have to be sure I’m in a position to best guide and protect them, yet allow them to also have the advantages that PC and the Internet offer.

I’d love to hear what others think about this, how others approach this, what experiences have been. Thanks.


#2
  1. a teen who really wants to do something will learn to hack. And a teen who learns how to hack will outsmart you. I guarntee it.

  2. LET your teens know that there is software to protect them…that the computer is not sacred.

  3. Keep the computer in a visible spot.

That being said, things have changed in the past few years since I was nannying. One big thing is the cell phones now having internet. A teen could now, reasonably, buy a mobile phone and prepay internet (Virgin Mobile has a unlimited DATA plan for $25 a MONTH!!!:eek:) and hide it. I’d be more wary of keeping an eye out for those devices than on my home PC


#3

Do you have a filtering program too? Does that Family Cyber alert also have blocking capability? If not, you need to put someone on your computer ASAP. I used K9 Web Protection - it’s free and works great. You can check off whole categories of websites to block, and you can also control access by time.

Don’t postpone this. Your kids could come across porn almost anywhere and by the time you notice what they’ve seen, those images are already burned into their minds.

And watch out for the keylogger type of program - your antivirus program might disable it by mistake. I use Spector Pro (completely stealth, impossible to find, does not show up on the programs running list at all) and I’ve had a few issues along the way.

Also, go ahead and tell your kids you are watching them. You don’t want to have to tell them once they’ve made a huge mistake - just tell them that you get to see what they do. If your program shows up anywhere, you can be sure they can inactivate it.

Blocking/filtering is essential.


#4

I don’t know about Family Cyber Alert but K9 is fantastic and not easily removed as it’s developed by BlueCoat who is a major provider of proxy / filtering products for many major corporations. It’s also free. I have it on the computers that are dedicated to my sons. I also have all 4 systems in my office and thus usually if they are in there, I’m in there.

My oldest is only 8 (or soon to be) but is very Internet savvy and like to look up gaming stuff, books for Accelerated Reader and toys for his “little guys” collection (Super Hero Squad)… even with Google safe search on a search with the right word in it can bring up a number of unacceptable links :slight_smile:

Joe


#5

Really good point, purplesunshine. I would not allow internet access on any phone I am paying for, and I would also ask to check the phone from time to time, without notice, to make sure the text messages were not sex messages.

I think the OP’s kids are not old enough to get that devious about buying a phone and hiding it, but an older teen might do it if he wants to look at porn without his parents knowing. At that point, I’d think about kicking him out of the house.

:eek:is right.


#6

Thanks for all of the great feedback.

This software does have site blocking capabilities, but is not a full fledged subscription-based filter. My experience has been that the filters aren’t foolproof and don’t block everything - though that doesn’t make them a bad thing and they certainly serve a different purpose. I just liked the idea of having more visibility to what they’re getting into online, simply to help me with how I am dealing with this concern otherwise.

Family Cyber Alert has not been a problem with my security software - I think maybe when I installed it there was some simple step to address that possibility. It is stealth, so they cannot turn it off - even if they found it, they would need admin password.

PC is in public area, but I just can’t always be right there to watch their every move, and the PC offers many benefits, so I don’t want to stifle that.

As for phones, you’re right, that’s the next concern…it’s hard to keep up.


#7

As a 20 y/o who grew up with computers, I can tell you that it is likely your children have already been exposed to inappropriate material. The average age of exposure to hardcore pornography is about 11 years of age. source

I would suggest installing the K9 filter (FREE!).
www1.k9webprotection.com/

Make sure you have at minimum the following settings enabled:

Force Safe search--this means that they won't be likely to run into any
Under categories to filter select at minimum: Nudity, Pornography, Proxy Avoidance --this will allow pornography and nudity to be blocked. If you do not enable proxy avoidance, they may be able to use a proxy server to circumvent the filter.

I hope this helps. I would also suggest that you have a talk with your children about your expectations for their use of the computer/internet.


#8

Your home is not the only place they will have access to the Internet…school, library, friends’ houses, friends’ phones, friends’ iPods (yes, some have Internet access), iPads, etc. The Internet really is everywhere!


#9

Definitely agree with this - I hope the OP has already been doing that, explaining the reasons why they need to be careful and not trust everything on the internet, and why they are being restricted by K9, it’s for their own protection, as you would make them wear a seat belt in the car or wear a bike helmet to ride their bikes.

Because as you and others say, the internet is everywhere and especially for the boy, others will show him porn whether he does it at home or not.


#10

In addition to keeping your PC in a public area of the house, limit their time on it. And, as for Facebook or My Space, etc, set up your own account and require that you be included on their friends list. Then you can see what is going on.


#11

[quote="1ke, post:10, topic:218410"]
...as for Facebook or My Space, etc, set up your own account and require that you be included on their friends list. Then you can see what is going on.

[/quote]

Maybe....it depends how they have THEIR privacy settings! It is possible for them to "friend" you, but still restrict what YOU see on their page.

Far better to just HAVE their password and let them know you WILL be logging in from time to time....then do it.


#12

As a computer teacher, I DEFINITELY would advise all parents to MONITOR children’s computer usage. Elementary students should not be allowed to have internet access constantly. I agree that children should keep up with computer technology but first they should master the art of typing; using microsoft word, excel, powerpoint, ms paint , photoshoppe. There are so many software which kids need to learn and those do not require internet access.

I have seen the difference between kids exposed to the internet at an early age and those who are not. Those kids who are not exposed to the internet(the innocent ones) seem to behave well in my class whereas those that are used to exploring things on the web do tend to disobey, not pay attention in class because they would rather surf the internet and not learn how to type and learn Word, excel and powerpoint…


#13

As a teen, let me tell you kids will go to huge measures to hide their internet history, visit websites THEY want to and bipass any means of you trying to keep them safe. For me it was facebook, I wasn’t allowed to have an account so I made one under my nickname from school. That’s not too bad, but for many kids they get into worse things. Honestly, I would just sit down with your kids and explain not only the virus risk, but also their own safety and how it’s at stake when they visit any innapropriate web sites. Trust me a face to face talk will make them listen more than anything else. You might feel such subjects will be akward for your kids to talk about and for you to introduce, let me tell you, THEY WILL BE. But, your kids knowing they can trust you talk straight up about ALL subjects will help them and yourself more than anything. I never really talked much with my mom about any “akward” subjects besides chastity, and let me tell you it took me WEEKS to peck up the courage to tell her I was pregnant :(. Kids feel more inclined to be rebelious if they feel you are not an outlet for their questions about growing up, sex etc. THEY WILL TURN TO OTHER RECOURCES, not knowing the risks. So if you haven’t already, and this goes to any parent with a teen or pre-teen, talk to them and let them know no question is too “innapropriate” for them to ask you. Building their trust will leave less of a margin for unseemly behavior.


#14

“nun”


:sad_yes:


#15

The point about the cell phone that purple sunshine makes is a good one. And yes many gas stations will sell these to teens without a second thought. And yes teens will get them because mom and dad may be just too strict in their opinion and not let them talk to their friends on texts and then one thing becomes another and they are talking to strangers, etc. But setting boundaries as others have brought up is very good. I am also a big one on contracts with older teens. You do a - b happens. These are the expectations and obligations. These are the rewards and punishments. It is more like real life.


#16

I am also a 20 year old, and I’m very tech-savvy, so I can provide some perspective on this.

First of all I want to make it clear that while software tools can be useful, you should not rely on them. It is not a bad idea to have a good popup blocker or internet filter installed, but any teen would know how to turn this off. In addition, they cannot catch everything.

Also, I think that while monitoring software could be useful, it is really very easy to bypass. Most teens these days have enough computer knowledge to turn it off, and if they don’t know how they have a friend that does. I think that parents need to understand how easy it is for kids to do this. I don’t care how good the software is. It is really as simple as running the computer in safe mode (depending on software), getting an administrator password (I have known my parents’ passwords since I was about 14), or even bypassing the operating system and running a live linux distribution.

Now, keeping in mind that you will not be able to have full knowledge or control of what your kids are doing on the computers (aside from talking to them about it), here are my recommendations:
-Don’t use internet explorer. It really is more susceptible to malware than other browsers like firefox and chrome.
-Keep the computer facing an open area, and check in on your kids. If the computer faces a wall, it is too easy to close anything they don’t want you to see.
-Talk to your kids about the internet, computers, facebook, etc. I would recommend being their friend on facebook if they use it, and possibly even having the password to their accounts.

I guess the biggest point I want to make is that there is not a piece of software that is going to take care of this for you. You really need to talk to your kids so you know what they are up to.


#17

I don’t like this.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of bad stuff on the Internet. It ranges from disgusting to illegal, and I do think it’s best for children to steer clear or it.

My problem is that addressing it in this way, through filtering and monitoring, isn’t teaching the children the problem or how to address it when there is no filter. I know people who have internet filters at home, and I know what their relationship with their parents is like. Yes, they don’t look at pornography on their computer. No, there isn’t any trust from their parents, even in matters not involving computers. This type of protection only works to a certain point, and it seems to me to be far more likely to cause a greater rebellion later in life.

I know kids who didn’t have filtered interned. I was one. Yes, there was some exposure to the bad side of the internet (granted, usually at a friend’s house. In which case, the filter wouldn’t have helped them). However, for the kids whose parents took the time to explain to them why it was wrong, they didn’t willingly look at pornography or anything. See, their parents spent years building up mutual respect and trust, and for these kids, their biggest motivation for doing things was that they had been taught to value their parents trust, and that losing it by betraying it would be devastating.

Both ways keep kids safe on the Internet. The first way will keep them off bad websites for sure. The second has better results in the long run, as staying off is a choice the kid makes. I’ve seen it done many times, and when the kid’s choices are based on respect and valuing trust, they will continue making good decisions after they no longer are under their parents control, both on and offline.


#18

:thumbsup::thumbsup: I concur.



#19

I think this is very reasonable. I work with hundres of teenagers each day who utilize the computers. The vast majority of teenagers are good kids and never attempt to get into trouble on the Internet. Occasionally someone tries to find a way around the firewall and usually it is for something that makes me laugh about when I get home. I have only had one case in 14 years of a teenager doing something which would be dangerous to themselves. I caught it because I was viewing the logs.

I laughed at this chart. For teens:

Green - Homework
Blue - Social Networks, Normal Teenage Stuff
Red - Hacking/Cracking, Preditors, Cyberbulling, Porn


#20

[quote="TheDumbOx90, post:16, topic:218410"]
I am also a 20 year old, and I'm very tech-savvy, so I can provide some perspective on this.

First of all I want to make it clear that while software tools can be useful, you should not rely on them. It is not a bad idea to have a good popup blocker or internet filter installed, but any teen would know how to turn this off. In addition, they cannot catch everything.

Also, I think that while monitoring software could be useful, it is really very easy to bypass. Most teens these days have enough computer knowledge to turn it off, and if they don't know how they have a friend that does. I think that parents need to understand how easy it is for kids to do this. I don't care how good the software is. It is really as simple as running the computer in safe mode (depending on software), getting an administrator password (I have known my parents' passwords since I was about 14), or even bypassing the operating system and running a live linux distribution.

Now, keeping in mind that you will not be able to have full knowledge or control of what your kids are doing on the computers (aside from talking to them about it), here are my recommendations:
-Don't use internet explorer. It really is more susceptible to malware than other browsers like firefox and chrome.
-Keep the computer facing an open area, and check in on your kids. If the computer faces a wall, it is too easy to close anything they don't want you to see.
-Talk to your kids about the internet, computers, facebook, etc. I would recommend being their friend on facebook if they use it, and possibly even having the password to their accounts.

I guess the biggest point I want to make is that there is not a piece of software that is going to take care of this for you. You really need to talk to your kids so you know what they are up to.

[/quote]

Linux live CDs are great, I prefer live flashdrives though. I'll admit I've used it tons of times on school computers, pathetically the two things I do are read Catholic blogs and watch My Little Pony

I initially thought it was impossible for a show about ponies to actually be good, but it turns out the new MLP is fantastic...

PS over half the viewership is guys in the 13-17 and 18-25 categories, (it's also completely innocent)

[quote="tgauchsin, post:19, topic:218410"]
I think this is very reasonable. I work with hundres of teenagers each day who utilize the computers. The vast majority of teenagers are good kids and never attempt to get into trouble on the Internet. Occasionally someone tries to find a way around the firewall and usually it is for something that makes me laugh about when I get home. I have only had one case in 14 years of a teenager doing something which would be dangerous to themselves. I caught it because I was viewing the logs.

I laughed at this chart. For teens:

Green - Homework
Blue - Social Networks, Normal Teenage Stuff
Red - Hacking/Cracking, Predators, Cyberbulling, Porn

[/quote]

I object to hacking being included in the red category, OTOH cracking should definitely be in there. My relationship with the school IT guy is quite jovial. I enjoy breaking into his account and then leaving a detailed log of how I did it on his desktop.


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