01/12/2012 01:53 pm ET Updated Mar 13, 2012

Protecting Your Kids Online: Successfully Guiding Teens In the Challenging Digital Era

If you combine the descriptions of kids' behavior, parenting styles, and the types of monitoring solutions -- you get many different permutations and possibilities for protecting kids on social networks.

Lenient parents may not use any monitoring if their kids are not getting into trouble or doing risky things.

But if their kid gets arrested for speeding while drunk, that same parent may decide to install a GPS device and do random drug testing.

A parent with a kid that is frequently getting into trouble, on the other hand, may decide that they need to use hidden monitoring in order to protect the kid.

So, the bottom line is that for any given combination of kid and parent type, there are appropriate hardware and software choices that will help monitor risky online behavior while making sure kids stay safe on social networks.

Finally, no parent really knows what type of kid they have, or what temptations they may succumb to. But we all know of instances where some teen was responsible for some heinous behavior, and the parents thought they had done a "good job" of parenting and were horrified to learn what happened.

The truth is that you really never know, until after the fact. Which means that for young teens, some degree of monitoring is wise. The initial amount of monitoring has to do with your parenting style, and what you already know about your teen. The more you then learn about your teen, the more you can customize your oversight, whether that means making it tighter, or relaxing it. But the parent has the responsibility to be in charge; to set the guidelines and limits; to determine the consequences; and to decide if, and when, to turn over responsibility to the child.

Monitoring solutions do not replace parenting duties. They empower parents with information; share advice compiled from the experiences of thousands of other parents; and provide parents with the tools that help them observe, analyze and set limits, which they can't do on their own.
Parents can choose whether or not to use this advice and these tools. But, in the end, they must decide how to guide their teens in this ever-challenging digital age.

SocialShield is the leading cloud-based social network monitoring service. It gives parents affordable, easy-to-use, state-of-the-art tools to help them enhance Internet safety for their children in the online environment.