If Facebook is the new “Telephone,” Net Nanny Social is a Great Answering Machine

Aug 20, 2013

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Online Mentoring

After being impressed by Net Nanny Social a few months ago when I had the chance to review and write about it, I’ve been using it faithfully to keep track on my children’s social media presences and activity. When we started using Net Nanny Social in our house, I got a number of alerts about my teenager’s activity on social media that I ignored. I didn’t care if she and her friends used the word “stupid” or the occasional swear word.

They’re a good group of kids with reasonably good manners and sensible values, and if a questionable word or two is the worst that’s happening on Facebook, I consider that a parenting success. As a parenting and education writer and former parent trainer, those parenting successes are important to me. After all, I can’t expect other people to take my advice if it’s not being implemented in my own home, right?

But sometimes no matter how well you parent, no matter how much you trust your children and how diligently you teach them about online safety, teenagers do stupid things. And it can feel like a parenting fail.  I was lucky enough that Net Nanny Social lived up to the “nanny” part of its name and took good care of my child.

A few days ago I got an alert regarding my daughter's friends on Facebook. After checking it out, I discovered someone who had requested her as a friend was someone she did not know, but she had accepted the request because some of her other friends had.  The “friend” was just over the age limit I felt was inappropriate to be hanging around my teenager, even virtually, so I checked around with other parents. It turned out none of these kids knew the man. They all assumed the others did!

I did a little more digging and discovered the “friend” in question lives in our neighborhood and is on the sex offender registry. Obviously, I shared this information with the other parents, reported my concerns to Facebook and watched my teen "unfriend" this character.

Best of all, though, it allowed us to have a dialogue about the validity of assuming just because someone is a friend of a friend on Facebook that they are trustworthy. I likened the effect to a round of that old game Telephone; by the time the information gets to you, it’s all garbled and you can’t trust it. I can trust my kid, and I can trust Net Nanny Social, but I’m not so sure it’s always wise to trust the information that comes at us through the Internet.