Parents test drive program to monitor kids’ social media activity

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With Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, it can be hard to keep up with all of your kids social networks and text messages.

But there are services available that will help parents monitor what their kids are up to.  Social Scout is one of those products.

Kasie Pinkard, a mother from Thornton, tested the product for FOX31 Denver.  Her 13-year-old son, Darren Breci, spends a lot of time on his phone, and  Kasie wanted to make sure he is safe and appropriate.

Social Scout is an online system that helps parents monitor and quickly analyze their kids social networking and mobile phone activity.  Kasie was up front with Darren.  She installed the product on his phone and then started getting informed.

She gets an email every day that summarizes all her son’s activity from the day before.  “It tells me messages that are coming in and out specifically on Facebook, text message and Instagram,” Pinkard said.

She sees the pictures he’s posted, or been tagged in, and the system looks for possible items of concern. “It tells me if there’s possible threats, profanity, sexual content, adult content, that kind of stuff,” Pinkard said.

Kasie says Darren keeps his nose pretty clean, but his friends are another story.  “The amount of profanity used at that age is pretty incredible,” she said.

As for Darren, the biggest issue wasn’t his posts, but the TIME he was making them.

The program showed Darren was using his phone until 2:00 a.m., and that prompted a quick change.

“He no longer has privileges to his phone after bedtime,” his mom said.

Darren says he’s become pretty comfortable with the whole thing.  “Sometimes you’ve got to kind of think of what you are doing,” he said.

But other kids may put up a fight.  Denver child psychologist Dr. Sheryl Ziegler says don’t let that stop you.  “Involve your child,” she said, “Let them know I’m putting this on there.”

She says monitoring is a good idea, just don’t do it in secret.  “This is a great opportunity to say this is my job as a parent, and I really hear that you don’t like that and you want your privacy, I just need to know in general what you’re doing,” she said.

Social Scout costs $8.95 per month for one child, and $17.95 for two or more.  If you want to monitor your child’s phone activity, the child must have a Blackberry or Android phone.

For more information go to:
http://www.mysocialscout.net/

Here are a few other companies that say they offer similar services.
http://www.netnanny.com/features/social-media-monitoring
http://www.socialshield.com/
http://www.safetyweb.com/
http://www.truecare.com/
http://www.theonlineguardian.com