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I talk about some of the common questions that seem to be coming from kids, and wonder ... do the parents know?

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Hello everyone, this is Leo Notenboom of Ask Leo, on the internet at, with news, commentary and answers to some of the many questions I get at

Do you know what your kids are up to?

Last week I talked about the level of privacy you should expect while using instant messaging, and other services on the internet. The implication was that spying is a bad thing, and that unless you take steps, privacy is an illusion.

If you're a parent, the roles are, or could be, reversed. I'm reluctant to say that spying is "good", but parents really need to be aware of are what their children are doing on the internet.

At Ask Leo! I get a fairly constant stream of questions, many obviously from kids, asking how to crack someone's account, or how to bypass their school's internet security, or for activation codes to allow them to steal copies of popular games. A lot of the spyware problems I see are the result of folks trying to get illegal music by installing peer-to-peer software that are known spyware carriers.

No, I'm not saying it's all kids. Far from it.

But a large percentage most certainly is.

Are you positive your kids aren't part of that group?

There are legitimate parental spyware and filtering options out there that will let you both monitor, and perhaps control, what your children are doing on line. Most are customizable to your level of comfort and understanding of what's appropriate for your kids.

And personally, I'd let the kids know. Be open about it, it's a good example to set.

Like a cheap padlock, it'll keep the honest kids honest. The others ... not your kids of course ... will find a way around it. And if you find that out, it'll tell you something very important as well.

The tools are out there ... regardless of what you feel is appropriate or not, at least be aware.

Be a parent.

This is article #4328 - for links related to this item, or to leave a comment, go to, enter 4328 in the go to article number box. Add your comments to the discussion, I'd love to hear from you.

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Article C2315 - March 28, 2005 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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1 Comment
March 29, 2008 10:33 PM

Another reason to keep track of what your kids are up to: some large companies/ govt. departments/ universities etc. monitor sites like MySpace to see what the next generation is up to. And they remember names.

So a kid might really hurt his/her future chances of employment/education by putting the wrong information online.

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