Software Lets Parents Spy on Kids' Facebook Pages

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Call it helicopter parenting in the digital age: A new smartphone software tool allows parents to monitor their kids' Facebook usage without their knowledge.

The free service, called "Safely Social Monitor," lets parents see who their kids interact with on the social network, what photos they post and any they're tagged in. Safely Social Monitor even alerts parents when their kids use inappropriate language, Ryan Kim from the tech website Gigaom reported.

Safely Social Monitor falls under the umbrella of products put out by Location Labs, an Emeryville, Calif.-based company focused on increasing family safety through technology.

"Keeping up with kids as they engage with new technologies like smartphones and Facebook is a daunting task for parents," Tasso Roumeliotis, CEO of Location Labs, told Kim. "Safely answers parents' primal need to protect their families and gives them valuable service they can trust."

Though it could be viewed as intrusive, there is a dangerously large amount of information and images many children and teens share on Facebook that they shouldn't.

MSNBC reported that by the end of 2011, between 70 billion and 100 billion photos will have been uploaded to Facebook, which amounts to 20 percent of all photos taken during the whole year.

Uploading and posting questionable photos isn't the only risky business kids get into online.

According to a new study conducted by San Diego-based firm ID Analytics, about 6 million children — and their parents — share personal identity information online, primarily their Social Security numbers.

In polling 307 million Americans, ID Analytics discovered a dark secret, one that flips the script on who should be doing the secret monitoring: Nearly 500,000 children under the age of 18 reported having their identities stole by a parent.

"The realities of familial identity theft are far worse than anything you see in a soap opera," Stephen Coggeshall, chief technology officer at ID Analytics, wrote. "It is the ultimate in family betrayal."

To keep your online information safe, make sure you use an identity theft protection service and watch what you post and share on Facebook and other social networking sites. Online crooks only need a little bit of personal information to do a lot of damage.

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