Online safety is a dilemma on every parent's mind these days. You want your child to be safe from scams, predators, cyberbullies, and their own worst instincts. You also want them to be digital-ready. Internet skills are a requirement in the job market, as necessary as the ability to read. Denying your child internet access means less mastery of vital career knowledge owned by everyone he will compete with in his lifetime.

So how do you allow your children to participate in the online world and still ensure their safety?

One company may have the answer. KidGuard is an ambitious startup, backed by technology entrepreneur Lawrence Ng, with child safety and parent peace of mind as its primary goals. The service provides information and tools parents need to monitor their child's online activities and track physical location. "Technology has made everyone more vulnerable and while we deploy billions towards technology to protect our customer data and trade secrets, we spend practically nothing towards technology to protect our kids." says Ng. "We're determined to not just treat the symptoms of this problem but to systemically cure it by giving parents a tool to preemptively protect their kids on the same platform that presents the most risk - their phones."

Children won't always confess what's happening to them, out of shame or fear of reprisals. Reluctance to report is what makes it so easy for predators and bullies to take advantage of vulnerable kids, and social media makes it all too easy to identify and target at-risk kids. One of the common things keeping parents up at night is seeing a change in their child, knowing something is going on, and having no idea what it might be.

I signed up for a free KidGuard trial to take a better look. With the KidGuard Phone Monitoring service, you can track your child's cell phone activity from a tablet or your own phone. Read their text messages, monitor location by GPS, see who they call and who calls them, and view chats they are involved in. You'll also be able to monitor social media, check their browser history, see what apps they have installed, and view their contacts. The program gives you a detailed overview into your child's digital life, so you can take appropriate action when they are in trouble.

If monitoring your child's phone gives you pause, consider this:

The FBI advises careful monitoring of your child's internet activity, along with ongoing education about appropriate behavior online.

KidGuard has recently published 'Parents' Survival Guide to Online Safety' covering parental knowledge from facts and statistics to how-to action plans. The guide emphasizes the importance of educating children to be good digital citizens and ways to ensure safe online behaviors.

"Paying attention to our children's digital exposure is a crucial part of raising healthy kids in the modern age. KidGuard offers both preventative and interventional tools to help families keep their children safe." says Carrie Goldman, Co-Founder of Pop Culture Hero Coalition.

Threats are not always from outsiders.

Depression is common among teens, and more likely to affect 15 to 17-year-old girls. A statewide California study found depression among teen girls alarmingly high, with 11th grade girls and girls enrolled in non-traditional studies at highest risk - with a range 33% to over 50% reporting depression-related feelings. Boys fared a little better. Their depression levels remained steady within the 19% to 29% range in most areas.

Given kids notoriously capricious moods and limited family time, serious depression may be hard for parents to identify. The ability to see your child's interactions friends and what sites they visit online can give you clear insight into what's really going on in their heads.

Struggling with a growing mental issue can affect your child's ability to learn, enjoy life, and forge normal relationships. Depression and anxiety can lead to destructive behaviors including substance abuse, self-harm, and delinquency. Intervention and professional help at the right time can help save your child from taking a very difficult path in life.

In the worst-case scenario, where you don't know where your child is and she's not answering her phone, KidGuard's Situation 360 report shows you at a glance where your kids have been, who they have been talking to, and what photos they have sent or received recently. The depth of information you can pull up in seconds can help pinpoint your child's location and take appropriate action immediately, whether it's calling a friend to remind your son to answer his phone, showing up at a kegger to collect your 17-year-old, or calling the police to ask for help.

You are the first line of defense for your children, and keeping your kids safe online can seem like an overwhelming challenge. You can't watch them every minute of their lives. KidGuard lets you see everything you need to see, including where they go online and in real life.

Published on: Apr 4, 2017