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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Being up front about monitoring online kids

I see no point in parents secretly monitoring kids' online activities - except if a parent feels a child is in danger and the child is unwilling to communicate or make a change in those activities and is being secretive him or herself. If those exceptional criteria are met and a child is at risk, surreptitious use of monitor software is very probably necessary. Otherwise, the only kind of monitoring I'd recommend - for the average kid who's not at risk offline and is lucky enough to have engaged parents (the vast majority of online kids) - is open monitoring involving lots of communication and maybe technology. Which is why I like the whole concept of Norton OnlineFamily: It's not just about technology. I'm not aware of any other online-safety or parental-control product or service designed from the ground up around in-person parent-child communication. "OnlineFamily is meant to be completely transparent between parent and child," writes USATODAY's Ed Baig in his review of the product. Also good: It's free till next January. "Symantec isn't committing to a price after that but says a one-year subscription is valued at $60," Baig adds. For video on the product, see Good Morning America.

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