Protecting Your Kids Online: How to Choose the Best Solution for Monitoring Your Kids' Social Network Activity

11/11/2011 12:35 pm ET | Updated Jan 11, 2012

Parents are concerned about the dangers that social networks pose for their children today.
And with good reason.

The powerful rise and ubiquitous usage of the social Web offers a host of wonderful new experiences, but it has also dramatically raised the bar when it comes to online safety and security.

And it's kids who are most exposed on the Facebook-influenced Web today, in part, because they have made the new generation of digital devices their prime social outlets. The very nature of this new software, and the increasingly popular social network platforms that help drive its adoption, means that legions of teens are constantly connected to one another online; as a result, they are also constantly in danger of falling victim to cyberbullying, being preyed upon by online predators, or having their reputations ruined by careless activity, or posts, by themselves or their friends.

Despite these digital perils, parents simply can't prevent or block their children from accessing Facebook or other social media. That would be like never letting your child go to a playground, party, or amusement park because of the fear they might be kidnapped. But parents can deploy comprehensive monitoring solutions created for the social Web. These solutions help offset the risks and provide a basis for discussions with children about proper/improper social network behavior; it's just like advising kids not to take rides with strangers offering candy.

The new social Web solutions scan and analyze activities to identify potentially dangerous, illicit or inappropriate social networking behavior that needs to be investigated; then the solutions offer understandable and actionable assessments and reports so the right decisions can be made.

It's important to remember that these are tools to aid parents; they aren't substitutes for parenting.

That said, many parents still don't understand the risks their kids are exposed to on social networks; or they think that the potential dangers only involve "other kids," or "not our type of schools." Wrong. Every type of school, child and neighborhood has already experienced the dark side of social networking.

The question is what's the best monitoring solution for your household?

And the answer depends on what type of child you have, what type of parenting style you've adopted - and, mostly, how much risk you're willing to accept and embrace.