IM Safely?

I think we would all agree one of the most dangerous and important aspects of online life is the instant messenger. It is where many kids get into trouble and should be on the radar of every parent and children’s workers. It is through the instant messages and social network that many kids or preyed upon by online predators. The 10 commandments of online safety apply to instant messaging as well so be sure to check out that post.

I have many parents ask me what they can do to monitor their kids IM and social networking activities. So i began my search and I found an amazing program called IMSafer. It is fantastic.

Here is what I love about IMSafer.

  • You don’t monitor everything your kids say, so they maintain their privacy.
  • You are however, notified if there are certain keywords that come up like your address, you phone number, foul language etc.
  • It is free for one screen name (unlimited monitoring and Social monitoring are extra)
  • You can monitor MySpace (priceless)
  • You can install it on a Mac and Those other computers
  • As soon as your kids have said something questionable or had something questionable said to them you are emailed.

Here is a quote from their site.

“The parent can view the questionable portion of the IM conversation and explanations as to why the conversation was flagged as potentially dangerous. Furthermore, IMSafer will help parents by explaining slang and IM acronyms that may be related to the questionable portion of the conversation.

IMSafer works hard to honor the privacy of the child by not allowing parents to read full chat transcripts. Spying on children is known to drive their activities underground. Working together is the best way to ensure that your child is protected.”

Stats (We all love stats don’t we)

• “87% of U.S. teens ages 12 to 17 currently use the Internet, representing about 21 million youth. Of those, approximately 11 million teens go online on a daily basis.” (Pew Internet and American Life, “Teens and Technology,” July 27, 2005.)

• “The size of the wired teen population surges at the seventh grade mark. While about 60% of sixth graders use the Internet, by seventh grade the number jumps to 82%.” (Pew Internet and American Life, “Teens and Technology,” July 27, 2005.)

• 47% of children have received e-mails with links to pornographic websites. (Symantec market research report, June 9, 2003)

• Over half (51%) of parents either do not have, or do not know if they have, software on their computers to monitor where their teenagers go online and with whom they interact. (Cox Communications and The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, “Parents’ Internet Monitoring Study,” February 2005).

• 57% or more of parents were unable to correctly decipher the meanings of several common instant messaging abbreviations. (Cox Communications and The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, “Parents’ Internet  Monitoring Study,” February 2005).

 • In late 2004, teachers at Montevideo Middle School in Virginia, surveyed 178 sixth grade students at their school. The resulting data was alarming: 1 in 4 had become friends with a stranger online and 1 in 10 had attempted to meet an online friend face to face. (Montevideo Middle School, “Sixth Grade Computer Survey,” December 9, 2004)

 • Some 57% of parents worry that strangers will contact their children online. These worries are well grounded. Close to 60% of teens have received an instant message or email from a stranger and 50% report emailing or instant messaging with someone they have not met before. Despite this, teens themselves are not particularly worried about strangers online; 52% of online teens say they do not worry at all about being contacted online and only 23% express any notable level of concern. (Pew Internet & American Life, “Teenage Life Online,” June 20, 2001)

• 30% of teenage girls polled by the Girl Scout Research Institute said they had been sexually harassed in a chat room. Only 7 %, however, told their mothers or fathers about the harassment, as they were worried that their parents would ban them from going online. (Girl Scout Research Institute 2002)

• 86 % of the girls polled said they could chat online without their parents’ knowledge, 57% could read their parents e-mail, and 54% could conduct a cyber relationship. (Girl Scout Research Institute 2002)

• 81% of parents and 79% of teens state that teenagers aren’t careful enough when giving out information about themselves online. 65% of parents and 64% of teens say that teenagers do things online that they wouldn’t want their parents to know about. (Pew Internet and American Life, “Protecting Teens Online,” March 17, 2005.)

• 27% of teens said that they have known a friend to actually meet someone whom they only knew online (Teen Research Unlimited, “Topline Findings from Omnibuss Research,” October 2005.)

• Online teens admit that they frequently communicate with people they have never met: 54% have Instant Messaged a stranger, 50% have emailed a stranger, and 45% have participated in a chat room discussion with a stranger (Teen Research Unlimited, “Topline Findings from Omnibuss Research,” October 2005.)

• 28% of teens said they use code words on a daily basis to hide their online conversations from their parents – example: “PIR” means “parent in room” (Teen Research Unlimited, “Topline Findings from Omnibuss Research,” October 2005.)


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