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As your kids get older, they become more independent. The days of games on the iPad are traded for their own social media accounts and lots and lots of texting. When they are younger, we worry about screen time and if they are using their devices more than they should. But when the teenage years hit, the worry changes.

The truth is, some teenagers are great. Some do their homework, hang out with the right friends, and rarely cross the line when it comes to your rules. Other kids, well, they are a little bit more rebellious. And for a nervous parent that is waiting and wondering if their teen is going to come home. Or a parent that is suspicious that their teen could be into drugs or other things that could put them at risk, it’s a difficult proposition.

And when it comes to internet use, the intentions of your children might not even matter, as it’s not too difficult to stumble upon the wrong things very quickly.

The decision is often quite straightforward. Do you take steps to find out what they are up to using technology?

If you decide it’s the right choice, one of the most popular ways to do so is through something called keylogging.

What is keylogging? Here is a good summary.

A keylogger is a piece of software that logs every key you press on your keyboard. It can capture personal messages, passwords, credit card numbers, and everything else you type.

Keyloggers are generally installed by malware, but they may also be installed by protective parents, jealous spouses, or employers who want to monitor their employees.

For those who have been in that situation, it’s not an easy choice. Sometimes you’ll find the evidence you’re looking for when you investigate. And sometimes you might get more than you bargained for. Private conversations your teens are having might validate your decision to snoop, but those conversations are still private. You insert yourself into a conversation that you were never meant to be part of.

Keylogging is a sneaky and effective way to peek into this world, and there are certain benefits. You can track your kids’ online activity and protect them from engaging in conversations with anonymous people that may mean to do them harm. It can also allow you to see your child’s attempt to locate the content you are not alright with, giving you the ability to keep it from happening again.

Keyloggers are kind of like the next generation of parental controls for your computer or mobile device. Of course, but deciding to use one isn’t easy.

Teens need to know that the things they share on the internet with a public audience can come back to haunt them, and quickly. There are too many documented cases today to NOT do your best to educate your kids.

Of course, it’s not as easy to navigate the waters when it comes to reading your teen’s texts or private conversations. Parents pay for their phones and computers, and the teens still live under their roof. Here are a few ideas that might help you make better decisions with your teens regarding their smartphones and computer use if you choose not to use a keylogger.

– Have them turn their phones in at a specific time on school nights. Don’t give them the option to glare at their screens late into the night instead of resting and getting ready for school.

– Confiscate and or hack into their accounts or texts if you feel like they are in legitimate danger. This includes running away from home, having sudden or huge swings in behavior or mood at home. (More than “normal” teen stuff)

– Don’t read through a list of texts trying to find something incriminating without cause.

– Don’t lower our opinion of your kids because you see them acting foolishly online. Use this as a teaching opportunity.

– Continue to talk to them about the ramifications of public messages online and why it’s important to guard themselves while using the internet.