Cyberstalking is following a person online and establishing patterns before perpetuating an act, in some instances, a crime. This is made easier because of Facebook, Foursquare, Plurk and Twitter.
But cyberstalking can be good if we intend to protect the innocence of our kids. Some parents are not comfortable with this idea because it sows distrust in the relationship. But in my opinion, it’s not an issue of trust, but of innocence. Kids innocence coupled with curiosity can be and will be taken advantaged of by others online.
If you’ll ask me if I am monitoring the online activities of my kids, the answer is a resounding yes! Are my kids aware of this? Another resounding yes! Allow me to share with you how we do it, keep in mind that we have a boy and a girl.
11 year old girl
Since my girl is not allowed yet to have her own FB account, we opened an account for her at Togetherville, what is cool with this app is it can interact to an adult’s Facebook account. So we exchange notes and gifts with our daughter, and we are very much involved in her online activity. Togetherville also provides a summary report of the activities of my daughter. Monitoring is not much of a problem.
13 year old boy
When our son requested us to have his own Facebook account, we were involved in the setting up of his account. And we agreed that he will share his password with us, and we, his parents, and some of the extended family, will be part of his friends list. I guess the keyword here is “agreement”
Of being proactive
I consider being tech and social web literate as an advantage because I can be proactive. Before they can think about it, I am one step ahead and already discussing with them the prospects. Thus, I gained their trust on this issue. Besides, we established a culture of transparency at home. We believe that if you are not doing anything wrong, why hide your online activities, everyone can access anybody’s account anytime, provided respect is observed, i.e. request permission 1st, do it only to configure privacy settings and do not engage the friends on the list.
Other practical tips:
I already mentioned this on earlier posts, but allow me to mention it again.
- Place the computer in the common area, not on kids bedroom.
- Activate and set-up the parental setting of your computer. Mac has it and I think windows vista and 7 has it too.
- Use 3rd party software when necessary to filter access to the web and to log the online activities of the family. There are free stuffs out there that is of good quality, we use open dns for web filtering and online protection
- Use a browser advisor.
- Connect with your kids. They will less likely resist intervention if there is a connection, and respect.
If you are doing something that is not mentioned here, please feel free to share it and add value to the discussion.