Los Angeles -- As kids flock to the internet for social networking, educational tools and more; safety on the web is becoming a concern for parents. Have you ever wish that you could become an invisible being in your house to watch for what your kids post on Facebook and other social media sites? Well AOL, in association with SocialShield, is launching AOL SafeSocial, a $9.99-per-month service that empower parents to monitor their kids' online activities without having to be a “friend.”
AOL has disclosed the results from a recent survey, conducted by Nielsen, about parenting and social networking. The survey discovered that over half of children do not know all of their “friends” personally.
The positive results of companies like ReputationDefender, SocialShield and Safety Web are showing that now, more than ever, parents are looking to spend money on tools to help protect their kids on the web.
AOL has recently unleashed a new product from SocialShield, a startup that provides parents with a “360 degree view of their child's social networking life”. This includes a report card of overall social networking activity and offers a web application that identifies various security risks on social networks.
Home screen from AOL SafeSocial (Credit: AOL)
However, one would not necessarily link AOL with child safety on the web. But AOL's application is similar in functionality to SocialShield. Safe Social will empower parents to monitor their kids social network conversations and actual “friends” network by notify parents real-time alerts if inappropriate conversations are happening (such as mentions of sex, drugs, suicide, and other red flag terms).
For instance, Safe Social will mark any new friend with Match.com, alerting parents when a child befriends a possible adult on a social network. Moreover, the application's Activities Engine stores every comment and photo a child posts. The photo feature will track all images that are posted by a child, or an photos where a child has been tagged.
- You will know where your kids have social networking accounts
- We will check out their online friends against more than 50 databases -- are they also friends with your child’s other friends? are they an adult?
- You will be notified automatically if dangerous situations or inappropriate words are mentioned in posts (trigger words include “drug,” “suicide” or “violence”)
- Your child will have to agree to be monitored, but you won’t need to “friend” them or hover over their shoulders
- Issues are summarized so you don’t have to wade through their posts
- All posts are documented, so the detail is there if you need it
One problem with monitoring everything your kid does online is that you are likely to be overwhelmed with a lot of irrelevant information. And, of course, the key to all of this is that the parent has to have the children's credentials to their accounts to track all of their activities. Safe Social requires consent from the child to allow parents access to their kids' friends list and what they are posting on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. Parents can even get alerts about potential predator relationships and indications of “at-risk behaviors” like references to alcohol, bullying or suicide.
“Predators, whether bullies or sexual offenders, often masquerade as friends,” says John Ryan, AOL's head of Online Safety and Security. “The key is to unmask them. Safe Social takes an across-the-board look at your kid's friends and checks them against more than 50 databases and other factors, such as distance, to help you find out if they are, who they say they are.”
AOL is planning to charge for this service-Safe Social will be free for 30 days and then $9.99 per month. That price includes tracking of a number of childrens' accounts.