AOL Gives Parents Tool for Eavesdropping on Kids’ Social Networking

By: Chris Crum - August 24, 2010

AOL has released the results from a new survey, conducted by Nielsen, about parenting and social networking. The survey found that over half of children don’t knows all of their "friends" personally.

The survey also found that 76% of parents with kids on Facebook have "friended" their teenagers, while 29% of these teens would un-friend their parents if they were given the option. Heartwarming isn’t it? These kids are twice as likely to un-friend their mothers as opposed to their fathers.

Along with the survey, AOL has released a new product called Safe Social, which 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 identification of potential red flags.
Safe Social from AOL
Safe Social requires consent from the child to allow parents access to their kids’ friends list and what they’re 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."

Safe Social also addresses reputation management issues for teens, giving parents the ability to review postings, uploaded photos in which their kids are tagged, etc.

Chris Crum

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

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  • Paul Eulette

    “Safe Social requires consent from the child to allow parents access to their kids’ friends list…”

    I wish I could have told my parents they needed my “consent” before they could know who I was talking to on their computer, using their internet access, in their house..after I ate their food.

    I like the concept of the tool, but in my opinion, parenting should at no point involve eavesdropping; if you have to eavesdrop on your own kids, you’re doing something wrong.

    You should be able to know that you’ve raised your child well enough for them not to post anything you wouldn’t want them to post, or be taking images you wouldn’t want them to take.

    If they are, you’ll need more than some social monitoring tool to help your problems, in my opinion.

  • Guest

    Paul Eulette is absolutely right that eavesdropping is part of being a responsible parent.

    I use FB myself and am continually amazed at how many FB-friends children of my adult FB-friends have, sometimes as many as 1000!

    Seriously, even if a 12-year-old was friends with every single kid in their school they wouldn’t have 1000 FB-friends. I can’t help but think that some of these so-called “friends” are just sexual predators in disguise.

  • Paul C

    I bet the survey didn’t ask how many kids have set up multiple accounts – one where they friend their parents for the ‘cleansed’ version of their life and one where they really live. This happens, and at a fairly high frequency.

    The challenge with spying on children is that they do whatever they can to avoid being spied on. And they are likely more proficient in the workings of technology to either manage privacy settings or just create multiple versions of reality. This is a wonderful tool for a helicopter parent to have a false sense of security hovering over their children.

    Oh, and who is AOL anyway?