Posts Tagged ‘child monitoring’

Can I Monitor My Child’s Kik Account?

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

This article has been written by the team at Gecko Monitor – The Stealth Computer Monitoring Software

If you are a parent you may be wondering whether or not it is a good idea to monitor your child’s Kik account or whether it is even possible. Kik is a messenger application that lets you text without using your phone’s texting service, and it has become a popular app for teenagers to keep in touch with each other. It can be used on devices like the iPod Touch and on devices that have a limited texting plan because of the fact that it doesn’t use the phone’s native texting service. There are several potential issues with Kik, one of them being the fact that Kik usernames can be posted in public forums where anyone can gain that information and contact the child or the account owner.

Kik is meant to be used for adults 17+

One thing to keep in consideration is the fact that Kik is meant to be used by adults aged 17+. Children who are under the age of 17 who use the application are actually breaking its terms of service. As a result, if there is any concern about how your child is using Kik and whether or not it is a safe application for them, the chances are that they should not be using it at all in the first place. They may have good intentions and only plan on keeping in touch with friends, but the fact that the app cannot be monitored by parental software monitoring programs means that there is the opportunity for trouble.

Parental monitoring software does not monitor Kik

One major issue with Kik is that most types of parental monitoring software cannot monitor its activity. This is because of the fact that Kik is a standalone messaging app. There are some parental monitoring software programs that can monitor keystrokes, and these applications won’t monitor Kik specifically, but you will be able to see what was written on the phone during a specific period of time. This is one of the only ways to monitor Kik activity, along with actually checking the phone on a regular basis. You may make it a requirement that if your child wants to use Kik that you have to be able to check on the phone’s activity at any time.

You can limit the apps that your child can download

If you have a young child or a young teenager they almost certainly should not be using Kik or any of the similar messaging apps that have been released recently. You can set up restrictions on the apps that your child is able to download on their iTunes or Google Play account. This way they will only be able to use their phone’s texting service to communicate, which can easily be monitored with a wide range of different parental control apps for both Mac and Android devices. It may not be easy to limit the apps that your child can use and setting phone restrictions, but doing so will protect them from strangers and ensure that appropriate conversations are being had.

kik messenger

Kids Computer Use Rules: A Computer Use Agreement with Your Child

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Kids these days are obsessed with social media and the Internet in general and while this craze can offer a lot of education and even a place for kids and teens to be a part of a community where they are free to express themselves, there are a lot of dangers both obvious and hidden that parents should be aware of.

It is always the responsibility of the parent or guardian to be savvy and tuned into what activities their children are partaking in on the computer. The fact is, most children will be unaware of the safety measures that need to be taken and will at times not make smart choices. Therefore, parents should remain diligent in keeping their children safe and educated when it comes to computer and online Internet use.

kids computer use

The Dangers Lurking

There are a plethora of dangers to different degrees online and the vast majority of kids won’t think twice about them. Not only are they apt to share private information to complete strangers or those they consider to be ‘cyber friends,’ they also can get caught up in the excitement of chatting and connecting with people; some of which have bad intentions.

Educating kids about these potential dangers which include identity theft, bullying, chat room conduct, posting photos giving out personal information and online predators is essential if they are to remain safe and responsible while using the computer. Placing too much weight and trust in the fact that children already know about these dangers, or assuming that they will always make the correct choices, can be a fatal mistake.

Instead everyone involved needs to remain proactive and take precautionary measures to ensure that kids are safe at all times and responsible.

Computer Use Agreement

Thankfully parents everywhere are turning to computer use agreement tactics as one way to help their children be responsible and stay safe while using the computer. Such agreements are available for downloading online or parents can create one of their own at home. It is a great idea to also involve the children while constructing computer use agreements. The purposes for them are varied but should always be primarily utilized for two reasons: to lay down the rules and clarify them between all parties and to keep children safe at all times.

A solid agreement should include the following, though parents should also feel free to tailor such agreements depending on their needs and guidelines.

  • Outline all safety rules such as forbidding them to ever share any person information online including their address, birthdate, phone number or location of their school or extracurricular activities.
  • Create a definitive statement that reflects that they will bring any suspicious or threatening behaviors to your attention. Educate them about their ‘gut feelings’ and trusting that when something doesn’t seem or feel right, that it probably isn’t.
  • Include a statement that forbids them to ever agree to any sort of face to face meeting without your knowledge and consent.
  • Clarify what type of language and behaviors are acceptable and what isn’t.
  • Educate and place limits or expectations on which pictures can or cannot be downloaded online, if ever.
  • Agree to terms of use such as which room in the home they are permitted to use the computer and the acceptable amount of minutes or hours per day that they can be online.

Other inclusions can also be educating kids about how to utilize the ‘ignore’ or ‘blocking’ functions if and when they need to and also explain to them that they are not permitted to visit off-colored sites or those that cost money to be a part of.

Before drafting or signing an agreement be sure to have a serious and thorough conversation with your child so that they understand not only the purpose of this agreement and why they need to sign it, but also so that they understand what the consequences may or could be should they not heed to the contract guidelines. This will ensure that the process is fluid and that they have a clear understanding of the intentions and expectations. Once the computer contract is complete have all parties sign and date it so that you have a copy for referencing.

Computer Monitoring Software

In some cases parents can gain additional protection and assurance by downloading or purchasing one of the many computer monitoring software programs that are available. Such programs allow parents to restrict access to inappropriate websites, will have access to children’s passwords and also be able to see exactly what their children are involved in and doing while they are online.

Computer monitoring software is affordable and has become an essential and vital tool for parents that have children that want and need access to the Internet but also want to keep them safe and responsible. If you’d like to download a free trial of our very own Gecko Monitor, head to our home page here.

 

Spying on Emails, Text Messages & Phone Calls

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Although most people greatly value their privacy and many wouldn’t dream of infringing upon other’s personal emails, phone messages and texts, there are still a vast majority who for one reason or another feel the need to peer in on loved one’s private happenings either because they want to know what is going on or in many cases, because their suspect infidelity.

Like it or not and regardless of personal opinions about spying, there is a booming business for devices and apparatuses that will help those who need to be ‘in the know’ on their journeys of discovery. The realm of communications is advancing by the minute and thus, so isn’t the technology for those who wish to spy.

Cell Phone Spying Equipment (Mobistealth)

With the influx of people using their mobile phones to communicate, companies every day are creating monitoring software that can utilized to spy on anyone’s phone messages, texts and will even keep track of websites that they visit while using their cell phone.

Girl with cell phone

How it Works

Once you have targeted the cell phone of your choice, beginning your spying is as easy as downloading whichever software program you choose to buy or invest in to the cell phone you want to monitor. For parents who are giving their underage children a cell phone, there are many companies that sell such software already installed. If however, you are being sneakier with your monitoring, you will have to download the software when the owner is not around.

Once the software has been installed and downloaded, it will begin to work immediately by transmitting (without the owner’s knowledge) masses of data to a secure server that you have set up. This is a separate account to which only the person spying has the password to and is the hub where all the cell phone activity will be sent to.

Once your secure server hub has been set up, you will receive every detail that happens with the cell phone and it goes directly to your secured site. The information transmitted will include all and any websites that the cell phone user visits, a complete log of all the incoming and outgoing calls they make and receive and a complete log of any text messages that are sent and received, including ones that are deleted.

Additionally most also have the option to use the software as a GPS tracking device so that you can track and monitor the cell phone user’s exact location at any time of the day or evening.

There are various options when it comes to cell phone spying software and therefore a little research may be required. Some software only works with specific kinds of phones, while other types will work with any phone. There is also specific monitoring software designed for Blackberry phones and Smart phones because those types have special functions that a traditional phone does not have and therefore you will need specific software if you are to track and spy on those functions.

Email Monitoring Software (http://www.geckomonitor.com)

While many people use their cell phones for the majority of their interactions, most still also use and access a home computer or laptop. Corporations have become particularly interested in this type of software as it allows them to track exactly what their employees are doing during their work hours, but it has also become quite popular in the general community as well.

email monitoring software

 

Most of the software programs sold today work in such a way that the user of the PC is not aware that their every key stroke is being recorded and monitored, making it the most efficient way to spy on the user without getting caught.

Depending on the type of software you purchase and download, every action that happens on the PC can be recorded and viewed at a later date to include screenshots, websites visited (along with the time and date stamped), a complete record of any emails sent and received (both present and deleted) and a record of any chat or instant messages that have been sent or received on the computer.

It is also possible with most of these software programs to track, record and monitor every individual key stroke that happens which means the spying individual can gain access to pertinent information such as passwords and any URL that has been typed into the computer.

Though one would think that a software program this complex and involved would be complicated to set up, the truth is that once you have selected the software you want, all you have to do is install and download it to the PC of your choice and it will begin logging information immediately, with all the collected data going to a secure server that you have set up and that is password protected.

When researching different programs and software it is important to make sure the software you select will work with the specific programs used on the computer such as Windows or Mac programs. While some software is cross-relevant and will work with a myriad of programs, others are designed in such a way that you have to match the software with a specific program type.

 

Top Educational Websites for Kids

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

With the advancement of Internet technology kids today are much easier able to find information and further their education online while in school or the comfort of their own homes. However, the Internet also poses serious risks because much of the information is not filtered or regulated. Finding quality sites that are effective and safe for your kids to advance their education can be tedious. Here are some of the top educational websites for kids that are chock full of information that is relevant, current and fun! And all of them are free!

educational desk drawing

PBS Kids

PSB has long been a reliable source for educating our youth and their website is one of the best available. The entire site is dedicated to educating parents and their children and setting up an account takes seconds. Parents can choose to allow their kids to set up their own accounts or can set one up for them that is password protected.

On this site, once registered, children and their parents will have access to a flurry of PBS kid’s programs that involves all their favorite characters such as Curious George and The Cat in the Hat. IT also includes many fun games and activities as well as printable coloring activities, photos and games.

Learning activities are divided by ages and learning levels and includes subjects in math, science, reading, language development and music and arts. There are also online activities for kids with learning disabilities and advanced studies.

Additionally the PBS site offers parent forums, advice columns and articles with separate segments for military families and also has financial categories to help with monetary issues.

National Geographic Little Kids

For the adventurous types this site is remarkable and very easy to navigate for kids and parents alike. More geared for children 5 years of age or under, they can find all sorts of information on animals and science and can also find lots of games, crafts and recipes on the site as well.

Activities include animal fill ins, photo fill ins, jokes and online lesson plans about the sciences and animal behaviors. The Curiosityville tab will bring families to a plethora of Q & A sections where short and fun facts can be found as well as little quizzes that parents can give to their youngsters after.

Community news and videos are also included on the website and kids can participate in games that include online word puzzles, geography games and action games that are kid friendly.

For older students this site also has a National Geographic Kids which is suitable for children over the age of 5 to high school ages.

Fun Brain

This site is fun, cool and packed with math and reading games that are all designed to mock video games but without the violence that so many parents are concerned about. The site has a unique way of engaging kids and keeping their interest by mixing lesson plans with games such as Baseball Math and Mad Libs Junior.

The site boasts tabs that include Math and Reading Arcades, Fun Arcade and Playground where all kinds of activities can be explored. The Math Arcade has things like connect the dots and tic tac toe squares while the reading activities include short books and games that follow the lesson plans.

Suitable ages are K-8 and parents can also find helpful links for homework help, advice and references/resources.

Pottermore

Created by J.K. Rowling, this is one of the most interactive and creative sites for kids who want to learn or love to read. The site is centered around the Harry Potter series of course, but many parents and children love the interactive activities that follow each of the book’s series and there are also a ton of games on the website for kids to enjoy. Those who love the magical adventures of Harry Potter will love this site!

Whyville

This is a great site for the in between ages and offers educational learning plans and homework help but also is a safe place for younger teens to chat and blog as well as connect with their peers without the traditional threats of the run of the mill social media sites.

Those who sign up can have access to lots of educational material, socialize and play appropriate games by themselves or with others. The community forum is a great place to connect with others while learning in a threat free environment.

If you’d like to monitor your kids or the family computer, take a look at our free trial of Gecko Monitor on the home page.

 

Introducing Children to Social Networking

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

The debate of whether parents should allow their children to be a member of social networking sites is one that is hot and heated. Humans are social by nature and since ‘everyone is doing it’ it can be difficult to defend a no social networking allowed stance with your child. Most psychologists have found that trying to keep your kids offline can do more damage than good, especially if they see you updating your Facebook status on the regular. Having said that, there are many things to consider and put into place when introducing your children to social networking. Here is the least you need to know.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Most parents shy away from social networking sites for their children because there are dangers lurking around every corner. These dangers are real, so parents should be concerned. However, when taking the leap to allowing your child to make their presence online known, also keep in mind that there are many benefits for your child as well if the right precautions are taken.

First your child should be age appropriate and almost every social media site requires you to be 13 years or older to join. As a parent you can choose to allow your child to join sooner than that (you will have to set up the account for them) but that is an individual decision that should be based on your child and their trustworthiness. These guidelines are placed by The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and thus it is thought that 13 is a reasonable age for your child to be able to handle an online forum in a responsible way.

Social networking is important for both adults and children because it is interactive and there are many things to be learned along the way both personally and culturally. Since much of our lives are dependent on technology, these sites are a great way to teach children how to communicate effectively, stay in touch with out of area family members and to learn how to be a part of a large community. This may be especially true for those children who are shy as it can teach them social and interaction skills in the comfort of their own home; skills that you hope will eventually spill over into daily life.

Social Media in the Family

The ugly side of social media sites is that predators know they are the perfect place to shop for their victims and this includes obtaining your children’s personal information for fraud cases, illegal behavior such as pornography and the more recent and tragic cases of online bullying.

Keeping It Safe

Although dangers are real, parents have many options when it comes to allowing your children to be online in a safe and productive manner.

It may be a good idea to start your child on a social media site that is geared specifically for children or those under 13 first before allowing them to join Twitter or Facebook. Site such as Whatswhatsme.com and Yoursphere.com are specifically designed for kids under the teen years and have built in and additional safety guards to protect your kids from adults with ill intentions.

These sites can introduce your children to how social media sites work, how to join into chat rooms, share status updates and upload appropriate pictures all within a safe realm, and away from adult conversations.

Fanlala.com is another social networking site for kids under 13 and it works and ids designed much like MySpace. Here young kids can chat and socialize, participate or start their own blogs, share files and pictures and has other group activities. They also have articles on safe behaviors and rules of social media and very strict policies on cyber bullying.

The Big Social Media Sites

Even for those who are age appropriate for Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook, there are still things that need to be in place before you let your children run rampant. If parents spend the time to have conversations with their kids and teach and instill proper behaviors while online, social media sites and children can go hand in hand.

Talk to Your Children

Before you allow your children to join these sites, a series of conversations need to take place. Explain in detail what dangers are involved in on these sites and caution them about how important it is to keep their personal information such as addresses, phone numbers and birthdates private and off line.

Also explain in detail what is and isn’t appropriate as far as pictures, music lyrics and overall conversations that happen online. This includes monitoring the pictures they post and having a no bullying policy.

Passwords

Every social media site is equipped with password protection and yes, your child should have one. However all bets are off when it comes to them not telling you what those passwords are. This is an argument that many children have with their parents and they should always lose this battle.

Kids want to have independence and autonomy but in the teen years this is not appropriate. Parents need to have access to their children’s pages so that they can be monitored regularly. Explain to your child that this isn’t about you being nosey; it’s about protecting them and making sure that they are being responsible. If they aren’t willing to share their password, that is a deal breaker.

Time

It will also behoove parents to set some ground rules as far as how much time is spent on these sites. Make the guidelines apparent and stick to them. Children need boundaries and this is also true when it comes to social media sites.

If you’d like to monitor what goes on on your or your kids computer while you’re away, download Gecko Monitor here.

Introducing Children To The Internet

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

How to introduce children to the internet is one of the many challenges parents face as their children hit that age of understanding the world. For many parents the thought of how to introduce the net, or the dangers involved will not have crossed their minds. After all, the internet is a relatively new phenomenon that probably isn’t on the top of everyone’s list when they think of challenging parenting tasks. The problem is, of course, that the internet is a dangerous place – an unrestricted dangerous place, where one minute you can be reading an article and the next your faced with unwanted adult material.

We all know that children are curious. And at some point parents are going to have to give some thought to the problem of how to introduce children to the digital world. I’ve always recommended a three step approach that leads kids online activities into their early teens. Of course, the question of ‘when’ to introduce children to the internet is an entirely different one, and one that is completely subjective to the parent and the family. I’ll leave that one up to you.

introducing children to the internet

The three step approach is this; Filter, Monitor, Trust. Pretty self-explanatory? As said before, the question of when to start this process is up to you, as is when to move on to the next step, but lets take a look at each step and it can be approached as a parent.

The first step is ‘Filter’. This means filtering and blocking the websites that can be accessed from a certain computer. This is perfect for children of a younger age, especially those too young to understand the dangers online. Luckily, this requires no technical skills. In fact, there are plenty of applications out there that are great for filtering (The market leader is Net Nanny). Parental control software works by scanning a web page before it’s shown for any profanity, adult material, hate speech or many other categories. Chat rooms and IM conversations can also be blocked or monitored and the software is highly customizable.

The first step is a great introductory step but at some point, as they grow up, your children are going to want to be allowed more freedom. It’s at this point that you may be reluctant to open the digital gates but sooner or later it will have to happen. This is where step two comes in – ‘Monitor’. Monitoring is perfect for those who want to allow their kids freedom, but still want to be involved in how they surf.

Computer Monitoring Software can be installed on the child’s computer and can either visibly or invisibly monitor everything that happens on that machine. In stealth mode, the user will never know they are being monitored, or you can let the child know the computers being monitored and have to software work visibly. When you install a program like Gecko Monitor, you’ll be able to see all websites visited, applications used, keystrokes typed, documents opened and more. Everything will also be password protected so that only you can access the software. This step is perfect for younger teenagers that are still vulnerable, or even older teenagers who you suspect of browsing questionable websites when they should be doing home work.

The final step is self-explanatory; ‘Trust’. Of course, we all know that at some point we’re going to have to let go as protective parents and trust them to look after themselves. Children (and more at this point, teenagers) will have to be allowed to be left alone to surf the net on the own accord at some point. It’s up to you when they’re ready.

You can download a free trial of Gecko Monitor here.

Mobistealth Review

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Mobistealth Review Logo

Mobistealth is the phone monitoring software for Android, iPhone, Blackberry and Nokia. We thought we’d give Mobistealth a short review on our blog as it compliments Gecko Monitor and will hopefully be useful to our target audience and customers. Mobistealth is probably the most popular phone monitoring software on the market today. Mobistealth has three versions – Lite, Pro and X-Pro. Each version provides slightly different versions of monitoring capabilities.

The Lite version of Mobistealth starts at around $8 per month and includes the following:

  • Call history logging.
  • SMS logging.
  • Browser history logging.
  • GPS tracking
  • Contact details.
  • Bookmark monitoring.
  • Appointment/Calender logging.

 

The Pro version starts at around $12 per month and includes all of the above plus the following:

  • Recording of surroundings.
  • Location tracking without GPS.
  • Picture/Camera logging.

 

The Pro-X version starts at around $17 per month and includes all of the above plus:

  • Recording of calls.
  • Video logging.
  • Blackberry messenger monitoring.

 

To install Mobistealth on the target phone you’ll need around 5 minutes alone with the handset to download the software, install and restart the phone. Once this is done there will be no trace of Mobistealth running on the handset and the software runs very effectively.

To view the phone logs and reports you simply have to log into your Mobistealth account through their website. The process is extremely easy and the reports are easy to read through and understand. The GPS information is particularly outstanding, displaying all the relevant information using Google maps. The recording of the calls and surrounding noises is also brilliant and clear. Another great feature is the SIM change feature that’ll alert you if an extra vigilant wrong-doer changes the SIM in their phone.

If you need to monitor a teens phone, or you have your suspicions about a cheating spouse then we recommend Mobistealth over all of its competitors, it’s a brilliant spy program that deserves a lot of praise. You can check out the Mobistealth website here. If you also need to monitor your childs or spouses computer take a look at our free trial of Gecko Monitor by heading to our homepage here.

Child Internet Safety Facts

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Child Internet Safety Facts