PARENTS have a new tool to keep track of their children online with the introduction of ProtectaChild.
ProtectaChild monitors and tracks the content being created by children and their friends on social networking sites using keywords, and tracks for inappropriate content. When these keywords are detected, an email or SMS is generated to the parent or guardian of the child to raise attention.
Director of IT at Croydon's Luther College Christopher Topp was a key contributor to the ProtectaChild project. "We've seen numerous reports from across Australia where children are unwittingly exposing themselves to a multitude of risks when using social media - cyber bullying or strangers to name a few," he said.
"We've also found an increasing trend that shows children are accessing social media from a wide variety of internet enabled devices - from mobiles to home computers, music or gaming consoles."
According to Mr Topp, the tool is the first of its kind in Australia to allow you to monitor social network activity regardless of where it is accessed from.
Croydon Hills mother-of-three Terri Stringer was one of the first to trial the program.
She admitted getting teenagers to agree to using the program was "difficult" because they felt that their privacy was invaded, but she said for younger children who were just joining social media, it would be a valuable asset.
"It's a great tool for educating parents and giving them peace of mind," she said.
"Your kids know it is on there, but their friends don't - or a stranger wouldn't, so there is that protection from potential online predators.
"A lot of kids have friends online that they don't actually know. It's a real problem."
Mrs Stringer said she found the program easy to use.
ProtectaChild currently monitors activity on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace and Bebo. Details: protectachild.com.au.