Cyber Spying: The good, the bad, and what you need to know

Lubbock, TX - By Katie Bauer  - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - We live in a connected world. Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, instant messages -- you name it, and surely someone in your family knows all about it.

At the forefront of the technological push to the future are teens like Kailey Rutherford.

"I just got my computer this Christmas," said Kailey.

But with all the potential online threats, Kailey's parents have made sure to take the proper precautions when it comes to their two teens.

"When they first started getting on the computer, I talked to them and told them about the dangers and how easily someone could find them if they wanted to," said mother Jackie Rutherford.

To protect them, Dee and Jackie Rutherford installed software that allows them to monitor every site their kids frequent.

"Well whenever I first found out that she got Facebook, I was like 'Whoa,'" said Kailey.

Jackie says she signed up for Facebook, to re-connect with old friends, but she admits it's a great tool to keep an eye on her teens.

"She reads all of my comments sometimes," said Kailey.

"There have been times when we have made them remove posts," said Jackie.

"I don't feel like we are intruding on their privacy we just set limits," said Dee.

This may be where a lot of parents say hang on a minute. If I'm looking at every site my kids visit, is that too much? What about the comments and pictures they post? I want to protect them, but what crosses the line?

"I just worry about parents entering into their children's social world," said Texas Tech Prevention Specialist George Comiskey.

Comiskey says he wouldn't advise parents to be friends with their children on social networking sites.

"I think parents still need that since of separation and kids need it. They need it to be able to develop and have a healthy sense of identity," said Comiskey.

Still he says there's nothing wrong with knowing what your kids explore in cyber space, as long as you are honest about it.

"If the parents talk to their children as they are getting on to the Internet and saying the Internet is part of our home and as long as you are in our home we want to know what you are doing and what you are involved in," said Comiskey.

Parents can even step up the level in which they keep an eye on their kids. Co-founder of Pandora Corporation Jamie Leasure says his child monitoring software, PC Pandora, allows you to even follow every keystroke on your computer .

"It's a way for parents that are out of the house a lot with jobs or other things that have to be done during the day to make sure their kids are not at home getting into trouble that they don't know or are not aware of," said Leasure.

Leasure says he agrees with Comiskey. Your children should know if this software is installed.

"The software is not meant to surreptitiously spy on your child its meant to help a parent guide a child's Internet usage and to know before trouble happens if a child has potential to get into trouble," said Leasure.

As for the Rutherford's they hope the limits they set, will only help their children as they mature into adults.

"A lot of kids would think they are really overprotective, like sometimes I do, but that is just teenage years. You just have to trust the people around you and know that they are doing it just for your safety," said Kailey.

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