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Safety for kids on Net = Money

Watching kids on the Net and keeping them safe is a booming business.

india Updated: May 02, 2006 11:51 IST

Keeping kids safe on the Internet is not only a big concern, it’s big business. Companies are popping up or tweaking existing products to meet growing demand for Internet safety.

And at a major summit in June, nonprofit cyberwatch group WiredSafety will bring together social Web sites like News Corp’s MySpace with technology giants Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. to develop ways to keep kids safe online.

With online predators on the prowl, teens often make themselves targets by sharing personal details on popular social network sites such as www.MySpace.com, www.facebook.com and www.xanga.com.

Law enforcement officials are urging parents to use blog search engines like www.feedster.com and www.pubsub.com, normally used by companies to track their products, to monitor kids’ names in Cyberspace.

Various software packages sold at www.software4parents.com let parents block certain sites and objectionable material and even monitor kids’ Web surfing from work. Some send e-mails to parents’ computers at regular intervals that include snapshots of Web sites visited or strings of e-mail chatter.

Spector Pro, by SpectorSoft, for instance, records e-mails, chats and instant messaging, providing the equivalent of a digital surveillance tape for parents to see the exact sequence of what family members are doing on the computer.

Online safety advocates like WiredSafety, however, believe that such ‘spy’ softwares should be used as a last resort. A search engine, netTrekker, eliminates all links to any pornographic, offensive, useless or commercial sites.

And in another new twist, several companies are using the Web to help parents to keep tabs on kids in the physical world.