Do You Need to Monitor Chat Conversations?
Why You May Need Chat Monitoring
For the most part, kids use online applications like Facebook and AIM to chat with friends connected to their network. Think of the word "friends" as someone who your children granted permission to speak to, and not necessarily a friend who might come over for dinner. It can be very easy for a total stranger, that knows how to lure kids into conversations, to sound like a "friend" from school, or friend of a friend.
When your child chats online, chances are they have used a user name and password that you may not have access to, or be aware is in use. Without their log on credentials, you can't see what is going on behind the scenes and monitor kids chat.
Computer monitoring software can monitor chats from email services, which are just as advanced. MSN and Yahoo mail, for examples, makes it very easy for your child to create an email account without your knowledge. Email accounts are free, can be created instantly, and offer chat monitor services with other subscribers to the network.
Types of Monitoring Chat Software Features
There are basically two ways for monitor chatting. In each of our product reviews you will see two functions on the products feature list. One is called Chat Monitoring, and the other is called Keystroke Logging. Both types of software will monitor chats, but one is more aggressive, and generally requires more of an investment of your time, then the other. Which is most important to you, should be based on the needs you have.
First, there are keystroke logging programs, that record every single letter or number typed into the computer. These types of applications can monitor everything from web searches, to written emails, to chat conversations, and software programs on the computer. Whatever is typed on the keyboard is recorded for you to read at a later date. Remote Chat Monitoring is normally possible with an advanced keystroke logger.
The good news for parents is that it captures every single keystroke. The downside is that you can spend a lot of time reading everything that has been typed into a computer, especially if you have more than one child and more than one computer. Unless you have a unique or extreme situation, recording every keystroke on your kids computers may be overkill and difficult for you to maintain on an ongoing process yourself. Please use the link above to learn more about keystroke recording.
Another to monitor chat relies on the use of keywords. Instead of recording and reading every word that is typed, this type of parental control looks for keywords such as "drugs," beer," "sex," etc. Most software that offers this type of protections comes loaded with thousands of words you can start with, and you can always add your own.
For example, if you are concerned about your teenager hanging around with someone undesirable, you enter the person name. If you have younger children, you can enter your home address and phone number. For both instances, the application will become "triggered" when these keywords are typed by your child.
Some software applications offer email alerts, where you would be immediately notified of any use pertaining the keywords in your active list. Although all manufactures are different, generally speaking, your email alert would include the keywords used by your child, and a clip of the conversation before and after the use of the word, so you can understand how the keyword was used.
While this type of parental control is less aggressive, it can be much easier for you to manage, especially with multiple kids, and multiple computers. Think of this type of protection like you would a "check engine" light on your car.
You can assume everything is okay until the light comes on. If the light does come on, it could be due to something minor or something major, but it does tell you it is time for you to get involved, understand the situation, and make a decision.