April 27, 2006

Internet Tips

My kids know that the monitoring I do on their MSN stuff is the price they pay to have access to it. It's one of those non-negotiables around here, the same way my folks always insisted on knowing who I was with, where I was going, and when I would be home.

And yeah, sometimes I got around it. But I knew they loved me enough to come looking.

My house rules are that the kids can have MSN accounts, but I get their passwords. I've activated the feature that lets you record what is written, both incoming and outgoing. I've told them I won't go look unless I have reason to believe I should. In two years, I've checked just once, when another mom referenced some nasty language on my kid's part. She was right; he was grounded.

To activate the feature: Go to MSN Messenger, and sign in. You'll need their password. There is an icon on the desktop, or better yet, do this with your kid and tell them you're doing it. If they de-activiate it, you'll know they're hiding something.

1. Click on your child's name at the top
2. Go to Personal Settings, at the bottom
3. On the left side is a menu, click on 'messages'
4. Under Message History, click the little box, then click 'okay' at the bottom
5. Now it's set. You can right click on any contact name, and view the message history.

If my kids break the rules, I ground them from the computer. If you're away from the house, take the keyboard with you. Cruel, but it just unhooks at the back. If you're really not very computer literate, hire a tech or high school kid to spend an hour with you showing you the basics. It'll be the best investment you ever make.

Learn some of the basic shortforms your kids speak in. Everyone knows LOL (laugh out loud) but learn BRB (be right back) and GTG (got to go) and probably the most used, POS (parent over shoulder). If the letter 'F' appears, yeah, it probably means that. Click here for a link to a site with a decent listing.

Your kids are entitled to private conversations. But not with people you don't know, and definitely not with people they don't know. And for the kids hating me right now, be glad we love you this much.

None of this is foolproof. There are ways under any fence. But the internet is a powerful tool and while young teens may be savvy enough to race around on it, that doesn't mean they're equipped to cope with some of the very real negative factors.

Thanks for listening.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh my god that is the stupidest thing eva! that is an invation of privacy! If the kids do bad stuff the teachers or w/e will find out about it! and they will get in trouble the next day or w/e! jeez you really dont know much do ya?!?
msn iz the best like I dont see me going on my moms e-mail so just give it up!

April 27, 2006 5:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Idea, I don't normally take the keyboard with me, since they know that there is no computer use until I get home from work, I unhook the cable at the back (no internet). If they are in need of the computer for homework they can call me for permission and this way they can't use the internet.
I moved our computer to our main livingroom, so that I could monitor their computer use as well, as they are only allowed 1 1/2 each day. They can not save up the time and use on a different day, it is use it or lose it.
But I am going to set it up so I can monitor it more closely.
Thanks for the information.

April 27, 2006 6:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After watching you at 5:30, I thought right on. The first person who responded is obviously not aware of the things that can happen to them while on MSN. I would be willing to bet she lives with only one parent. I have a daughter living with her mom who would have responded the same way. She dislikes the way I want to teach her mom how to explore where she has been and who she is talking to. There is so much DANGER out there, that these kids need to be taught it directly in school as well as at home, and maybe have a victim of on-line chat come in and talk to them, because there are lots of victims out there. Keep up the good work and stop here.

April 27, 2006 6:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last comment should have read, PLEASE DON"T STOP HERE, at the end.

April 27, 2006 6:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to say that I am 24 years old and have grown up with computer technology. It is great that parents are starting to realixe that the internet can be a very dangereous place...instead of phone numbers at a bar, teens, at a younger age, are exchanging e-main addresses. The internet conversation and acrivities that go on "innocently" if translate to real life can be the reason for relationship problems and possible breakups. Unfortunaly, automatically saving an MSN conversation isn't going to deter those who have something to hide. All a child has to do is right click on the contacts namm and choose delete from the drop down menu and you will never know they were there. If you suspect something strange, you are probably right. There is software out there, specidically password stealers, that record conversations. This software runs undetected by the users UNLESS they know the toggle key and where it records the file to. I do agree that this is an invasion of privacy. But, they are in your house, your rules. And if they aren't doing anything wrong they won't have anything to hide. Sorry for the novel, but I do feel that the internet and webcams make it too easy for attention starved girls to get the wrong attention from lonely, sex crazed men and women. There needs to be a line...does it stop with your child dead? I didn't think so!

April 27, 2006 11:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Be aware that there are some simple ways around this policy. But it is at least a step in the right direction. If you use a router to share an internet connection among a number of computers you can also control access by using the scheduling feature avaiable on most of them. You can restrict their access to the net to times and durations of your choosing. It also makes a very effective method of cutinng off their access that does not require taking the keyboard or computer away to enforce a ban on net use. IMHO, to use a "netism", children under the age of 16 should have severe restictions on net use in the same way they are restricted from using the family car, until they are mature enough to handle the privelige.

April 28, 2006 12:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe I was one of the smart ones. I started using instant messaging programs, chat rooms etc when I was 11-12 years old and honestly, nothing bad has ever happened. I dont think that a lot of these kids need their parents looking in at all of their conversations. Yes, I know that there are predators out there lurking on the internet, but that's like saying the parent should be with the kid 24/7 listening to all their conversations and what they do at all times. Or if not at that extreme, recording everything they do in a day and only watching it if a complaint comes up. doesnt sound much like trust to me. To bar them from talking to anyone they dont know online is a pretty restrictive thing dont you think? Not everyone you talk to is going to be a sexual predator, and who knows, you might make a good friend out of it. All in all, I dont think that monitoring all the conversations is a very good idea.

April 28, 2006 12:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are so many things about this that are wrong.. this will be a long msg. By doing this it's an invasion of privacy and an invasion of trust. There are many dangers in the world, and the internet is probably one of the safer ones. Think about how your kid can go out in public and be around so many strangers. You can't be there for all that. If your child says that nothing is going on, than nothing is going on, simple as that. A real parent doesn't need to have all those tools to watch over them... what a "REAL" parent would be doing is talking to their children, gaining their trust, having a close relationship.. and actually "TALKING" to them alot. I don't understand why people think they can protect their kid online. Especially if parents aren't computer savi, a couple of steps on here isn't going to stop the child from hiding anything. No, infact it's only going to annoy them and make them aware of what is going on and how they have POS all the time. A teenager can easily go into the msg history, because the path is right there under the options on msn and delete any messages they want. So instead of giving parents a false tool to use, parents should start working on a relationship with their child to build trust.

April 28, 2006 12:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Invasion of privacy ??? Invasion of trust?? There are at least two previous posters who would have earned complete disconenction for their posts here tonight.These are thing you earn they are not rights. When you are judged ready for such "rights" they will be granted and not because your peers have them. Sure kids can go and delete the logs it's simple to do, but the deletion of those logs especailly when use of the service is predicated on the logs being kept in the first place and this is discussed with the child, is not an invasion of privacy or trust. They are the rules for the use of the service. Relaxation of the rules will come when they are earned and quite possibly without the logs ever being checked. It is also a two way street as it will also protect them from being falsely accused of misdoing as well. As far as being a "false tool", it allows a dialogue and boundary settings to be discussed with the child before implimentation.

If more draconian tools of enforcment are required, a number of parents I know swear by this one.


April 28, 2006 12:29 AM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

Great comments on both sides of this debate - and I can see both sides. Everyone who mentioned open communication with their children as being the best defense against anything is spot on. That's why I suggest you show them what you're doing, if you have reason to be concerned. I don't check my kids messages - I just need them to be aware that I can if I need to. I know they can disable thinks I implement. They also know I live with a guy who can undo what they've done. Works two ways - and no, we've never gone that far. Would I if I thought my kid was threatened? Better believe I would.

It's far more important to have the computer in a central place, if you ask me. I can't stand kids locked away in their rooms for hours. Is that terrible parenting? You'd have to ask my kids.

I was glad to hear from those of you who have grown up with the technology. I am far from great on this computer - it's just a big typewriter in most cases - and I'm totally aware you can get around measures I suggested. It's to get you talking to your kids. And when I hear of parents putting tracers in their kids' cell phones to track their every move, I shudder. Now there's an invasion of privacy and lack of trust.

To the poster that thinks the Internet is one of the 'safer' places in this world, I suggest you do a little research.

Thanks for eveyone's thoughts.

April 28, 2006 6:51 AM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

sorry for the typos - it's early.
I also deleted a couple of nasty posts - you can bash me all you want, just don't use the foul language, okay?

April 28, 2006 7:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can go to bed at night knowing my kids are at home safe on their computers and not running wild in the streets causing trouble like alot of teens are doing. I trust my kids. I would not read their MSN conversations, just like I would not read their diaries.

April 28, 2006 8:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I fall into the category of my kids having computers in their bedrooms, since my family room is not large enough for 2 systems. They know that if they minimize what they are doing when I enter their rooms, the internet cable is unplugged and I keep it. They also know that I will do ramdom checks on their conversations. I have disconnected my internet service in the past when I have found them on it past their allotted time.

April 28, 2006 9:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Recently I had to delete MSN from the computer and set new limits for computer use. This was as a result of inappropriate comments made by my child - very serious ones. I also do not like the comments the other children are making and wonder "Where are the parents?"

As a result my child reinstalled MSN and blocked ME from his contact list so I could not see him online on my other computer. His chat logs indicated he was definitley hiding it, talking about not getting caught. I have since banned him from the computer until further notice.

I like Lorraine's tips and I will be establishing new guidelines using some of Lorraine's suggestions.

The bottom line I feel, is if you don't want your parents to see your chat logs, you must have something to hide. After all my son is only in elementary school. You earn privacy at that age in my opinion.

April 28, 2006 11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So instead of giving parents a false tool to use, parents should start working on a relationship with their child to build trust."

Limting or monitoring your child's internet usage or MSN does not exclude the fact that relationship building builds trust and is very important. In relationships do we not set limits, set expectations and have consequences when priveleges or trusts are misused?

Trust works both ways and is earned.

April 28, 2006 12:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah...this is a pretty bad thing to do. I am 15 years old and don't need my parents going through my MSN conversations. It is a TOTAL invasion of privacy and it is unnecessary. Parents are too overprotective with their children on the computer, and this should stop.

April 29, 2006 2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps the reason why you don't NEED your parents going through your MSN conversations, is the reason why they SHOULD.

April 30, 2006 11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At this point I don't NEED to go through my child's conversations, but I reserve the right to be able to. My children are 15 and 13 - if I feel that something is unsafe or dangerous, or liable to lead to something 'bad', then it is my right to read their IM history.

I'm not sneaky about this - I trust my kids, they trust me, they know I can look at their IM, they know I have looked on occasion. They also know I won't look at their diaries.

The internet is a public site, if you have a secret or something you don't want known - don't put it there, even in IM with only one person.

May 01, 2006 11:35 AM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

I want to thank all the parents I've heard from - both on this board and privately - who care enough to take the time to talk with their kids about this.

I hear the teenagers that don't want to be spied on - I get it, but when things go off the rails, it's your folks you call. I no more want to hover over my kids than they want me there. It's just about navigating safety and respect.

I figure if enough parents have some safeguards in place, some of the bullies and creeps on line will get caught in a net somewhere - even if it's not in their own house.

Great to here from everyone.

May 01, 2006 11:56 AM  

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