Should Parents Monitor Facebook?

<p>Jennifer Burnett &amp; her Kids</p>

Jennifer Burnett &amp; her Kids

It's a question every parent can relate to, and probably has had to consider in the past few years... Is it spying or simply good parenting when parents feel they need to closely monitor their teen's online activity?

According to a recent survey, sixty percent of U.S. parents seem to be alright with looking into their kids' social media accounts such a Facebook.

The survey also reports that it is mom who is most likely to be doing the spying, or monitoring.

AVG Technologies, one of the largest security software companies in the world, surveyed 44-hundred parents with children between the ages of 14 and 17...

They found that American parents are slightly more aggressive about Facebook monitoring than in the rest of the developed world.

And it's not only sexual predators or malicious hi-jinks they worry about.. how kids treat each other online is also a major issue.

Jennifer Burnett is a busy woman, working at a corporate job, and serving as single mom to three teenagers. But she has kept a close eye on her kids' Facebook activity for the past four years.

"It's different now than it has been in the past and so this is something I have to get used to whether I want to or not," said Burnett.

She says her kids live in a different culture than those of us who are even one generation or two older.

"We're not used to having everything about us online, but to them it's just as natural as talking to their friends in the hallway," said Burnett.

Her 16-year-old son Calvin says his mom's friendship on Facebook keeps him in line while he is online.

"When I know my mom's watching or my grandfather is watching then I'll just be like, oh, okay. They're gonna see this, so I better not post anything stupid," said Calvin.

But Burnett says she's not afraid to get into it with her kids.

"If there's something I don't agree with, I'll go talk to them.  But they've always been really responsive to discussing posts they've made on Facebook. I just find this another piece of parenting and I don't think it's a bad thing," said Burnett.

Tony Sako is an associate professor of information technology at CBC and knows a lot about online security.  He says there aren't many ways to keep kids safe online, except to really engage them yourself, as a parent.

"You bring the whole world into your house rather than just bringing just one friend over. So you really need that dialogue and you really need them[kids] to lean on you," said Sako.

Burnett believes her online monitoring is no different than keeping track of what her kids are doing when they leave the house. And Calvin says he's cool with it.

"As long as you have an understanding with your parents, and they know what you're doing. You know what's acceptable, what's not acceptable, then there's not any way to cross any lines," said Calvin.

"The only thing that causes my kids pain... they're like 'oh mom' is when I correct their grammar and spelling on Facebook," laughs Burnett.

A few interesting points from the survey...

Nearly 75 percent of American parents "stay connected" now to their children on social networks. 

Also, many parents have learned in the past few years there is no way to beat social media... the only way seems to be to join in and open up the lines of communication with your kids.