CyberSafe Parent Week: Online monitoring apps for parents

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Technology is always advancing,  and as it does – many parents are finding their kids can keep up better than they can! 

It makes it increasingly difficult to monitor what children are exposed to; so News 8 found out about some free and paid programs moms have found helpful in keeping their children safe as they watch them grow with technology.

A lot of moms can probably relate to Orange‘s Chrissy Khachane. She has three kids at different ages, and on different levels when it comes to what they do with their gadgets.

“They’re growing up in a very different world than the one we did. Where technology is in their hands from very very young.”

It could be a full-time job hovering over them; making sure they stay on-task, and don’t end up on sites they shouldn’t be on.

Thankfully she’s got a few tools of her own.

“Right now, one of our favorites is to use the Google Family Link.”

Google Family Link is a free download that lets you customize individual devices, block or allow certain apps and websites based on the child you have using it.

“One of the things that’s nice is when they are actually on a site they’ve never been to before, it’ll promp me with an email and/or text right on my phone that will say they’re asking for permission,” Khachane said.

Once she gives permission, they’re free to continue exploring. All this can be done remotely if she’s not nearby.

Another go-to in this family is Circle with Disney. It also filters content and sets a bedtime for your devices.

“There’s an absolute dead stop for those at a certain time. They won’t even power on,” said Khachane.

Even with all this technology, there’s still one component in this family’s operation that doesn’t involve a screen. It’s talking to these children about why these safety features are in place to begin with.

“Ultimately as they get older and we begin to give them more responsibility on their own, we want them to understand the values we have in our home when it comes to safety and technology use,” Khachane said.

As they get older, the challenge to keep them safe only intensifies.

Roo Ciambriello is also a mom of three who’s made child safety a career. She’s the Creative Director for “Bark“. It’s geared toward older children and teens, and lives in the background of devices looking for signs of cyber bullying, acts of violence, or self-harm.

“We get upwards of a dozen suicidal threats a day,” Ciambriello said.

It’s a free program for schools, and about $9 a month for parents. The program uses artifical intelligence to detect problematic situations in text messages, e-mails and web chats.

“Our AI sends 99.96% of alerts directly to the parents,” Ciambriello said. “In cases of very severe alerts where potential loss of life is imminent, we’ll send those to the FBI or NCMEC.”

Of course no one program is fool proof, but for these moms it’s about finding programs that will let their children grow and explore with technology while giving them the peace of mind they’re doing everything they can to protect them.

“We have had parents reach out to us and say, ‘thank you so much. I had no idea our child was struggling and we were able to get them the help they need,'” said Ciambriello.

Those are just a couple of ideas for parents. Some of those mentioned are free.

If you’d like to try Bark, you can get a 7-day free trial, and 20% off the life of a subscription by using the code 3B7KNVG when you sign up.

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