Reporting Paula Ebben
BOSTON (CBS) – With all the technology kids have today, parents can face a real challenge staying on top of all of it.
Robert Thompson says his kids are always using some new gadget.
“My kids will be on the Internet from all over the house. Or perhaps in the backyard, or the bathroom. You can’t possibly monitor it manually.”
WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports
Parents like Roger are turning to new mobile monitoring software which allows parents to set Internet controls for almost any portable device.
Basic software can go for as little as a few bucks from a mobile app store, while more advanced protection can be found for under $70.
Some companies offer a free mobile upgrade to existing subscribers, while others charge a small monthly fee.
Tim Armstrong, a software researcher, added, “The software that is available now is able to monitor pretty much any style or communication that we are used to. You can monitor SMS messages, text messages, emails, GPS locations.”
If a parent is concerned about bullying for example, this monitoring software can capture calls, emails, and texts.
“While you can’t avoid things like cyber bulling,” said Armstrong, “You can react to them much more quickly before these things escalate.”
This applies to risky behaviors as well, said Jeani Park of Spectorsoft.
“If a child sends an email with the word ‘party’ in it or ‘gambling’ in it or ‘drinking’ in it, the parent can get a special kind of instant alert so they know that there’s something going on that they really want to address immediately,” she added.
The new software can even keep tabs on a child’s location using GPS technology.
You have to set up what’s called a “Geo-Fence”, and if your child leaves that area, you will be alerted.
“Parents really have the complete picture of who their kids are talking to, what kind of media they’re sending, and where they are located,” said Park.
Experts caution that these programs should be just one part of parenting, and should not replace open communication.