Monitoring your kids online without feeling like you're spying

Staying a step ahead of your kids

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - It isn't easy to stay one step ahead of your teenage kids online.  You don't want to spy but you want to stay involved in what they're doing without crossing a line.

A recent survey by the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project indicates that roughly 93% of kids aged 12 to 17 go online and almost 3/4 of those teens say they regularly use popular social media platforms to stay in touch.

A recent study by California State University looked at social media, teen blogs,  and even online chat sessions and found teens today are like the teens of yesterday.  They are concerned about family, peer pressure, who they are, who they want to be.

So WBTV Cyber Expert Theresa Payton offers ground rules that can help you navigate the digital age with your teen:

1.  Teen Brand:  Help your kids build a positive brand online.  Help them understand that there is still no "right to be forgotten" truly on the internet.  Purchase their and help them set up a positive brand using a free website builder (one example is

2.  Teen Esteem:  Tell your teen to praise in public and discuss tough topics in private.  And that private always means offline.

3.  Teen Safe Zone:  Tell your teen that if something goes wrong on the net to alert you right away and invoke "the safe zone" which means you promise not to over react and that you will work to solve it together

4.  Micromanaging and Monitoring:  Tell your teen you will be where they are on the net (same social networks, devices in common rooms) and that you will only micromanage through monitoring if you believe they are engaging in damaging behaviors

If you want to look at your Teen's Online habits, Theresa says you can start with their web browsers on all the devices they use:

1.  Check their favorite browsers for specific details on how to pull up  "Browser History."

If they use Internet Explorer:

a.  Find the Favorites menu and select History.

b.  You can review a listing and sort by date, site name, sites visited most often or most frequently.

If they use Safari:

a.  Go to the History menu and then select Show All History.

4.  If they use Firefox:

a.  Choose the History menu and then select Show All History

2.  Talk to your smart phone provider and ask for a variety of options:

a.  Monitoring texts

b.  Monitoring and stopping texting while driving

c.  Setting up "Do Not Disturb" timeframes where messages don't wake up your teen as they come in

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