Posts Tagged ‘child safety’

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.

 

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.

 

Spying On A Cell Phone

Monday, December 17th, 2012

Gecko Monitor is our very own Computer Monitoring Software, that can be used to stealthily monitor a computer while you’re away. But what if you want to take things a step further? If you own the phone (whether it’s a phone you give to your kids, spouse or employee) you’re legally allowed (in most states) to monitor it. So if you have pesky kids who have knack for causing trouble, or an employee who’s been seen sleeping in his car when he should be out on the road, then you might want to look into spying on their cell phone.

Spying on a cell phone has become a lot more common place since the popularity of smart phones has spread globally. Smart phones make it very easy for cell phone spying, since they’re in essence mini computers. Older phones didn’t have the capabilities for installing software, but with operating systems like Android, Windows 8 & iOS, a huge range of software is available, and the range of applications developers can produce is huge.

Phone Spying

Cell phone spying software (for lack of a catchier name) is easily downloaded and installed on the target phone. A quick visit to the developers website is all that’s required to download and install the software, and once installed the applications will run in complete stealth in the background of the phone, uploading the logs and reports to the web for you to view at any time.

What can be monitored is incredible. Incoming and outgoing text messages are automatically stored for you to read at a later date, as are recordings of every call and voice mail. GPS is used to track the location of the phone at all times, showing on a map the exact location of the person. Web browser history and anything taken with the phones camera is also automatically saved. But perhaps the most extraordinary – or perhaps worrying – feature of cell phone spying software is the ability to simply switch the phones microphone on at any time at listen live to the persons surroundings. Think of the possibilities.

All of this will be automatically uploaded to your account online, so that you can log in and look through the reports whenever it suits you.

If you’d like to check out the most popular phone spy software on the market, take a look at Mobistealth. You can read our review of Mobistealth here. If you’re interested in monitoring a computer download our free trial of Gecko Monitor here.

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.

Protecting Children Online – An Infographic

Monday, November 12th, 2012

protecting children online

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.

Parental Control Features To Be Built Into Gecko Monitor

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Here at Gecko Monitor we strive to provide an unparalleled computer monitoring product and are always researching, planning and implementing new features and improved functionality. With this in mind we asked ourselves what other features our users would need. We came to two conclusions; Parental control features and networked office monitoring. As most of our users are home users monitoring their home computers, we decided on exploring parental control features first, although we will add more functionality for networked offices in the future.

Parental control (in computers) is obviously already an established market and a lot of our competitors already implement these features. We’ve looked at the market leader and other applications in the industry to decide how we can match and even improve on what’s already out there, and we think we’ve got something pretty special in the pipelines.
parental control software Of course the first thing we asked ourselves is what parents want from parental control at the most basic level. I’m sure all parents will agree that it’s safety, which we bare in mind at every stage in the development of the feature.

Blocking and Filtering is the bulk of parental controls and it’ll work like this; Every time a web page is loaded it’ll be scanned by Gecko Monitor before it’s shown. If there are words or images that appear inappropriate the web page will be blocked and will show a ‘locked’ splash screen instead of the website. But how does Gecko Monitor know what’s appropriate and what’s not? That’s up to you.

Behind the scenes we’ll have an extensive, comprehensive keyword list, sorted into categories that Gecko Monitor will check through when scanning a page. We’ll have suggested levels of filtering for different age groups and you can even add and remove keywords and phrases yourself. We’ll also include a setting for the youngest age group that only allows a select handful of sites (a children’s network) and block everything else.

The development of parental control is in its infancy at the moment so we’ve got a lot of work to do but we’re hoping to release the first version of the new Gecko Monitor within the next 4 months. Are main aim at this time is to create a program that’s an industry leader, a comprehensive tool that’s flexible and reliable. If you have any ideas, comments, requests or anything else you’d like to discuss with us please don’t hesitate to get in touch, we’d love to hear from you!

If you haven’t tried Gecko Monitor yet take a look at the free trial, available here.

Child Internet Safety Facts

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Child Internet Safety Facts