Cybernaut 

Spying out of love

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And while some could argue that teens should have the opportunity to go out and make their own mistakes and learn from them, free of interference, some of the mistakes that kids are making these days are not exactly harmless.

For example, I doubt many parents would be impressed to find their teens street racing, or to discover that their 13-year-old daughter is chatting online with a 25-year-old man, but these things happen. The tech tools available can also help parents find out if their children are on drugs, in trouble, depressed, or are becoming sexually active.

There’s no question it’s an invasion or privacy, on par with parents reading their children’s diaries, but since teens don’t really have many rights under their parents’ roofs until they turn 18 the snooping is perfectly legal.

Experts still say the best solution is for parents to foster trusting relationships with their children, and talk openly and honestly about all of the issues affecting teens – drugs, sex, bullying, etc. – and then equip them to make the right decisions. No teen will appreciate being spied on, even if you have their best interests at heart – I guarantee they won’t see it that way.

But if you want know more about the different technologies out there, here’s a short list of links.

Car Trackers – Most companies are American but sell their products in Canada as well. CarChip www.carchip.comis the most basic, recording data on speed, distance, etc. to get an idea of teens’ driving habits. If you want to add global positioning to the arrangement, check out companies like TrimTrac www.trimtrac.com/ or SafeTrac www.safetracgps.com.

Cell Phones – Due to regulations, most cell phones can be located these days by GPS, providing the phones are turned on, but to have tracking ability at home you generally have to pay for an additional service. You’ll have to go through your cellular service provider to find out just what’s available in your area. Some examples include AccuTracking www.accutracking.com, Wherify www.wherifywireless.com and Disney Mobile through their Family Tracking service.

For snooping software, parents have several options. One of the most popular is SpectorSoft’s eBlaster and Spector Pro, which monitor everything from e-mail to chats to web surfing, without letting kids know they’re being spied on. Other software includes IM Einstein www.im-protector.com which records instant messenger sessions, Net Detective www.netdetective.com/, and Guardian Monitor www.guardiansoftware.com.

Website of the Week

www.gamespot.com

With revenues bigger than Hollywood, there are literally dozens of new games for computers and consoles released each month, making it harder for gamers to separate the wheat from the chaff. So let GameSpot do it for you. As well as both customer and critic scores for each game, there are previews, advice on beating the harder aspects of games, special features like Burning Questions, Matt Rorie, Boss of Bosses, and reviews on new technology.

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