Kids and texting is just a fact of modern life. The problem for many parents is their children are more comfortable with technology and can be defensive about their privacy.
PARENTS IN CONTROL
This makes it a challenge to protect their kids, but now there are some new tools which can put parents back in control of the situation.
11-year-old Faith Troutman likes to text her friends, but one day she was frightened by a message she received. “It kind of scared me a little bit because I couldn’t tell if he was joking, or not joking,” she said of the text that appeared on her phone.
Her mother Tish Troutman knew something was up right away because of www.websafety.com. It’s software which monitors a child’s phone for unsafe or inappropriate messages.
“When the alert went off, it sent an email and a text to my phone, and instantly when it happened, I called her down and said, ‘What is this?,'” said Troutman.
Travis Bond of http://www.websafety.com says that’s exactly what should happen with the software. “It provides information about where the message came from, what it is in its entirety, and a phone number.”
Information like that might have saved someone like Phoebe Prince, the South Hadley girl who took her own life after being taunted with hateful text messages. Bond said, “We’ve heard story after story already where parents found something’s going on before it got to a critical point.”
Websafety has created a data base of 4,000 key words and phrases that could indicate if a child is in harm’s way. Once one of those terms shows up, a parent is notified.
Talking to kids about any aspect of social media can be tricky, but Derek Troutman, Faith’s father, said a service like this provided an opening. “It allowed us to have that one on one dialogue we need with our daughters about why this was written, and it really opened up a lot of communication within our family,” he explained.
Medford Police Lieutenant John McLean is an expert in cyber crimes. He says even though these services are not a panacea, they can be very helpful. “All this stuff is good,” he added. “When ever we can have a dialogue with our teenagers and talk to them, and have a meaningful conversation towards protecting them, that’s all good.”
TEXTING & DRIVING CONCERNS
We all know texting and driving is dangerous, but sometimes kids will still be kids.
That safety issue prompted Jerry from Whitinsville to Declare his Curiosity to WBZ:
“Why isn’t there a device that interferes with texting and talking on the cell phone in the care while driving?”
Websafety can help parents monitor that, even when they’re not in the car.
“If you go over 10 mph with the phone activated, the GPS senses you are moving, and at what speed, and it shuts down,” Travis Bond explained. “If you do try to uninstall it or turn off the GPS, it sends an alert message to the parents that they’ve done that.”
The goal is to give parents some control, particularly in areas where kids are usually one step ahead. Tish Troutman believes, “We put alarms on our homes, and we protect our cars with alarms, why wouldn’t we use an alarm for our kids?”
SERVICES TO RESEARCH:
Prices and functions vary on all of them, but Lieutenant McLean says, in general, most of them are pretty easy to install.
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