While I was working for the State, we had an annual conferece on Child Abuse and one of the most fascinating sessions was on Internet Predators. There are so many tricks that are used that I came away each year with the conviction it's more important than ever to know what your kids are doing.
Norton Online Family has created a new way for parents to easily monitor what each child is doing online. MomCentral has partnered with them to afford us the chance to participate in a free sneak preview of Norton Online Family.
Not only is it user-friendly by having a one-time set-up that you customize with each family member (age, maturity level, etc), but it's simple to modify your chilren's profiles or preferences
It also helps clear up the "I didn't even go there, it just popped up" as the report only shows the sites that your kids intentionally visited, by eliminating things such as ads from websites. If you want to go even further you can select from over 40 topic categories that will be unable to be accessed from your home, monitoring of your kids on facebook and MySpace and a 'curfew' for their time on the computer.
The hard thing about the information age is that it seems like it'll be hard, as a parent, to balance giving your kids a sense of privacy and protecting them. Keeping a diary hidden under your mattress didn't present the same dangers that openly exposing your inner-self on line may. The same way that passing potentially incriminating photos back and forth for a 'party' scrap-book isn't like splashing them across the net for everyone from college recruiters to potential employers to find.
To try this invaluable tool for yourself, simply visit Norton. I hope you enjoy it and find that it makes your kids' ability to live their 'virtual' life something that you can not only endure, but encourage.