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Monitoring Kids Online

Boot Camp feature for Thursday, June 26, 2003

How far should parents go, in monitoring what their kids do online? Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. Service providers like MSN and AOL have added tools to let parents restrict the online activities of kids. The latest version of MSN includes the ability to have weekly reports sent to parents by email. There are third party software packages that record what children are up to for later parental review. Now Actiontec Electronics has introduced software it calls Kid Defender... that the company's Lesley Kirchman says allows real time monitoring...

"And what that means is you could be at work..you'll be notified when your child logs in. And you can see in one screen what your children are doing online. You can see what Web sites they're surfing... you can actually see pictures of the sites they are seeing. You can also monitor instant message conversations, which is extremely important given the fact that one in five children have been approached online by a sexual predator."

The software also gives parents the ability, with a mouse click, to block Web sites or chat sessions. Kirchman says just knowing the software has been installed should help to keep kids from getting into trouble online...

"They will know that the program's there, which is good. They should know that you're watching them."

Kid Defender sells for 99 dollars... which includes a one year subscription for two parents to monitor two children. Monthly subscriptions are available as well. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.