The Balancing Act Panel

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This afternoon, I headed out to the Southern Women’s Show.  I’ve never been to an expo like this before.  There was lots of estrogen in the air.  Lots of shopping.  Lots of gadgets and gizmos.  Lots of cats paraphernalia.


It was a little overwhelming!  I saw women dragging SUITCASES filled with swag. 


I only got sucked into one display – the crystal rings – and walked away with a pretty green and silver ring.


Now, I wasn’t there to shop – I was at the show to sit on a panel about cyberbullying for The Balancing Act, a Lifetime morning television show.  Although our segment wasn’t aired live, it should be shown on the show sometime soon!


Also on my panel:  representatives from Girls on the Run, the local news, the sheriff department, and the Internet monitoring software TrueCare


I was there to discuss Operation Beautiful.


Some scary statistics:


  • Nearly 42% of students report being cyberbullied.


  • Girls are twice as likely to be cyberbullies than boys. <—Interesting.


  • Four out of ten middle schools have had their passwords stolen and had a classmate imitate them online.


Even some of my Girls on the Run girls have told me that they’ve been harassed online… and they’re only 10!  Although ‘traditional’ bullying is, of course, still a big problem in schools, the saddest part about cyberbullying is that kids can never really escape their tormentor, and the ramifications of cyberbullying can be just as serious as punches.


I enjoyed sitting on the panel because everyone focused on solutions to cyberbullying instead of harping on the problem.  The police officer discussed how there are firmer laws in North Carolina that protect students, and I suggested using Operation Beautiful as a sneaky and anonymous way to spread positivity in schools and give students hope. 


I was intrigued by the TrueCare product.  It’s a software that monitors children’s social networking accounts and alerts parents when one of 500 ‘special’ keywords are mentioned, like “beer” or “slut.”  As someone who doesn’t have kids yet and only knows what it felt like to fear my mom reading my diary (which she never did, that I know of!), my first reaction was that the program was creepy.  But then I realized how much interaction goes on online and how parents could never really stay on top it otherwise.  I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but I know it’s certainly helped lots of parents and kids.


Question of the day:  What do you think of computer monitoring software like TrueCare?  Good way to monitor kids’ online activity or slightly creepy? 


Check out Operation Beautiful for a fun giveaway!



  • Emily September 17, 2011, 5:57 pm

    I can see how that kind of software would be useful to people.

    But my instinct goes more toward building a good relationship and trust with your child. I think parents should have boundaries and rules for their kids using technology, and bring them up to respect them. My 13 year old half sister has a facebook account with lots of public suggestive photos etc. I don’t understand why her mother allows it. And its not uncommon.

    I also think its good to have computers in communal areas of the house – not laptops in bedrooms. So parents can keep an eye on what’s going on without being too intrusive. In addition, I think its good for families to talk about relationships and interactions whether that be in school/clubs/whatever, or online.

    I also think a big factor is parents’ knowledge about technology. When I was a teenager I had free reign with the internet because my mum was computer illiterate. I never got into big trouble, but I easily could have done. She had no idea what any of it was.

    So I think that while that kind of technology may have a role in some families, more important is to be engaged and informed as a parent, and to promote dialogue.

    • Caitlin September 17, 2011, 5:58 pm

      Great comment.

      I often wonder if I’ll be a technology savvy parent or if my kids’ teleporters and whatnot will confound me.

  • Rebecca September 17, 2011, 6:02 pm

    The fact that girls are more likely to be the cyber-bullies doesn’t surprise me that much. Guys seem more likely to physically bully, where girls tend to give it verbally and behind backs.
    Speaking of cyber-bullying, there was a movie (I think it was a movie, might’ve been a series) about that on ABC Family a while ago. I saw commercials a lot. Never got to watch it.

  • RunEatRepeat September 17, 2011, 6:19 pm

    I think it’s slightly creepy. I don’t want to think anyone could spy on me like that, so I wouldn’t think it’s good to do to someone else 🙁

    I think communication is key!!! Know what your kids are doing by being involved, not passively checking in later.

  • Samantha September 17, 2011, 6:31 pm

    Looks like I’ll be in the minority but as a mother (and my husband agrees) of two boys, 5 and 8, the older of which was physically bullied in FIRST GRADE, we have considered True Care and similar options. While I WHOLEHEARTEDLY AGREE that first and foremost is building a relationship and offering trust, it’s not just YOUR KIDS you have to worry about and often our children won’t share with us what is happening to them because they are afraid, ashamed, etc. We would never have known our oldest was being bullied if we hadn’t asked ‘the right questions’, he certainly didn’t volunteer up the information because he was afraid of being made fun of and the other boy hurting him. Thankfully he’s honest to a fault and when I asked a specific question about a field trip, he answered completely which opened my eyes to a situation I was unaware of.

    Point being, at this point in time I am not concerned about what MY sons will do on the computer, but then again most parents don’t ever think their own children will be the cause of any sort of big issue. But it will help us to ensure that our boys are protected as well. A dear friends’ 15 year old son was getting in appropriate texts from a girl, photos included. Mom always checks his phone, and she surprised him one day with a random check, so he had no time to delete anything. There were texts from this girl to him, suggestive and sexual in nature. All his responses were things such as “That isn’t appropriate” “You shouldn’t send this to me” “please stop or I’ll block your number.” But he never told an adult.

    Creepy maybe, but I was raised by parents who gave a fair amount of leeway but didn’t give me free reign and I’d like to think I turn out ok. (FWIW, the internet wasn’t around until I was a senior in high school so it was a non-issue for our family)

  • Kalli September 17, 2011, 6:43 pm

    Oh my god Caitlin ! This is so up my alley being a high school asst principal. We deal with bullying all the time and cyber bullying is worse. It really is an epidemic. Thank you for being on this panel. I would still love for you to cone to my school in fact I spoke with our ASB advisor. Have a great day!

  • Wendy September 17, 2011, 6:43 pm

    As a high school teacher AND a parent, that program is something I would be all over when my kids are old enough for social networking. Yes, building a good relationship with your child is extremely important, but no matter how good that relationship is, there are still things your children will keep from you. And having some of that information could help a parent keep their children out of potentially dangerous situations. I don’t think it’s an invasion of privacy at all – after all, when you put something on the internet, it’s there for the whold world to see!

    • Danielle September 17, 2011, 8:09 pm

      Yes, I agree that “no matter how good that relationship is, there are still things your children will keep from you”, but if you have a good relationship, those “hidden things” are going to be secret crushes on boys, or looking up things about sex (which is different than looking up porn. kids will find out things one way or another and sometimes your curiosity gets the best of you. it doesn’t mean it’s harmful), or whatever.

      My parents once secretly monitered my internet habits, and it was traumatizing. Absolutely, and painfully, inappropriate.

      This is an excuse for lazy parenting and for parents who are too lazy to do the REAL parenting work, but still want to be super involved and nosy and “on top”. If you parent correctly, your kids will COME TO YOU with information, so you find out things and build a trusting relationship at the same time.

      If you don’t trust your kids online, don’t leave them alone with computers for entertainment. Don’t take the easy way out and spy on them because you are too afraid of saying “no” or too afraid of letting them grow up naturally and having some privacy. You can’t have it all.

      • Wendy September 17, 2011, 8:28 pm

        Just curious – do you have children? Mine are only 6 and 4, and don’t use computers much yet, so my opinions may change as they get older. I do know I would never use this kind of program in secret – I would let my children know that I was monitoring them, and that they should never post anything on the internet that they wouldn’t want their mother to see.

        Also, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt, and assume you didn’t just call me (or anyone else who might choose to use this kind of program, for that matter) a lazy parent. It’s not nice to pass that kind of harsh judgement, especially when you know nothing about their circumstances. I work extremely hard to not only raise my own children right, but also teach other people’s children. And that teaching job sometimes sucks away so much of my time, energy, and patience, that it makes my job as a mom that much MORE difficult.

        • Selena September 17, 2011, 9:34 pm

          I was going to ask the same thing. Mine are 7, 4 and 19 months so I’m not to the point where I need this type of thing so I can’t say for sure what I’d do. I will say that before I had kids I would have felt like the person above that you must be a “lazy” or uninvolved parent if you need this type of thing. Now…opinion has changed. Parenting is a harder job than anyone can imagine and the internet and cyberbullying are terrifying. How do you know that they’ll tell you what other kids are doing to them? It may not be what they are doing. No way does something like this mean you are a lazy parent. I respectfully disagree.

        • Danielle September 17, 2011, 9:55 pm

          Sorry Wenday- I wasn’t making a personal judgement about the kind of parent you are. I see it came across like that, so I truly apologize!

          No, I don’t have kids, so I’m sure my opinions will change when I do. All I can do is speak from my experience of being on the other end of this type of program, and it’s very traumatizing. My mother also read my diary and went through my room and bathroom, and to this day I have MAJOR anxiety over people in my space. I get very anxious when even my boyfriend would be alone in my room or apartment and would compulsively hide things. I clear my internet history before I let friends use my computer, and I will turn down giving people rides if my car is messy.

          My point is that I was a good kid, and I did tell my parents things. I was bullied, and I told them. They had no reason to monitor what I was doing, so it makes it all the more horrible. I still tell my mother what’s going on in my life, because despite everything, she was a great parent. So, I believe it’s possible to have your kids tell you when they are bullied, or when they want to date boys, or when they have questions about life, because I was that kid.

          I also think it’s possible to do far more damage than good when you spy on them.

          Again, sorry for the poorly worded response. I wasn’t attacking you – I just react very strongly to this topic!

        • Wendy September 17, 2011, 10:02 pm

          Danielle, I suspected there was a reason for your response, and I understand why you’d feel that way. I may be a a mom now, but I can still remember what it was like being a teenager and feeling like your parents didn’t trust you. I do truly hope I can be the kind of parents my kids will come to about the hard things in their lives. No hard feelings at all! 🙂

      • Tiffany September 17, 2011, 9:48 pm

        Danielle, that was completely off base and uncalled for. Maybe in a dream world, kids would be able to open up to their parents and tell them if they were being bullied, but its not always the case. I have a 10 year old son that became the victim of bullying in 2nd grade. He was always a very open and honest kid and never hid things from us. He’s the kind of child that has no problem telling my husband and I that he made a bad grade or did something wrong. But when he was being bullied, he buried deep inside. It took a LOT of carefully worded prodding and heart to heart conversations to finally get it out of him over a year later (it was still a problem). You bet your ass that I will have something like this on our computer when he begins to use it more. Not to monitor *him*, but to monitor what the little brats he goes to school with may say. Having that hard proof makes it much easier to confront the problem, the bully, and the parents of the bully. It is NOT lazy parenting. Lazy parenting is sitting back and assuming that having a good relationship with your child means everything is all unicorns and rainbows and all problems will be shared over a bowl of ice cream late at night.

        Also, even if a computer is in a common area of the home, everything is not going to be seen at all times. When its just me and my kids at home, I’m running all over the place trying to do 10 things at once. I cant just stand there over my child’s shoulder to monitor what he is doing. I *trust* that he is doing what he says and he knows what he can and cannot do. Privacy has nothing to do with children and the internet. I have made it clear to my son that anything on the computer that he says or does is ‘public’ and we reserve the right to monitor it if we suspect something is going on. If my kids had facebook or email accounts, you can bet I would have access to those accounts. I don’t see how your parents monitoring what you did was traumatic unless you were saying/doing things that you shouldn’t have been doing. Yes, its best for parents to be up front about their intentions, but thats the great thing about being the parent….WE set the rules.

    • Samantha September 18, 2011, 12:08 am

      All well stated! I too would not use it secretly, my children will know its there and why. It doesn’t matter how amazing of a parent you are, most kids will hide something, innocuous or not. I am certainly not a lazy parent…I don’t think I’m the best out there but I try very hard to offer my children a world of opportunities, keep the lines of communication open and be approachable, be hands on, and above all else, constantly ensure they know how important they are and how loved they are. The boys use the computer in a family space, but like Tiffany said, common areas doesn’t mean your eyes can be glued to the screen every single moment. Additionally, even seemingly innocent google searches can produce some disturbing results. (I”m a graphic artist, often search for stock images, and can search ‘horse’ and get back images of naked women with livestock!)

  • Dynamics September 17, 2011, 6:43 pm

    I really believe if parents interact with their kids instead of giving them tv’s and laptops to use in the privacy of their bedrooms, some of these problems would not exist. Why do parents do that? Dinner at the table is also a great way to interact with the kids. I am not sure about that program, but if you are a parent who does not supervise and you leave the kids secluded, it might be a good thing for those parents. Me personally, I educate, supervise and put trust in my kids. Ask their friends when they come over to dinner about some of the conversations we have. I think the best conversation was about the florescent condoms!

  • Sana September 17, 2011, 6:45 pm

    It’s sad to see adults being cyberbullied as well!

  • Brittnie (A Joy Renewed) September 17, 2011, 6:52 pm

    It is so encouraging that your panel focused on solutions and not just the problem at hand. About the monitoring software… I have to agree with Emily in comment #1. Parents need to be in tune with their kids, setting firm boundaries and guidelines yet at the same time allowing them space to build trust. When we were growing up the computer was in the middle of the hallway, in plain view. We did not have computers in our bedrooms. This is an interesting topic and I am so glad you were able to show how Operation Beautiful plays a positive role.

  • Kandie September 17, 2011, 7:00 pm

    I think any software like that will be useful the first time it happens, but after that kids will just use code words or find some other way around it. It may give parents an idea of what is going on, but it won’t be a useful long term tool. Like the others have said, open communication is probably best.

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin September 17, 2011, 7:02 pm

    Cyberbullying is so heartbreaking. I hate all the media stories lately about teens who have committed suicide because of it. 🙁

    But I don’t think spying on your kids is the solution… I know it sounds naive and “hippie dippy” but I think schools really need to try harder to create more open, tolerant and accepting environments.

  • Jen September 17, 2011, 7:02 pm

    I watched a 48 Hours Mystery yesterday after internet-bullying and also at school. It’s very sad and upsetting. It’s also so prevalent. The sad thing is that people think it’s acceptable – that they have the right to say what they want because it’s a free world. Well, you don’t have to say anything if you don’t like it. If it’s not benefiting someone or making a difference or constructive – then those bullies are only doing it for themselves and because they are weak and insecure. Sickening.

    • CaitlinHTP September 18, 2011, 11:20 am

      I saw the clip of that show on Perez Hilton and it was SOOO SAD.

      • Jen September 18, 2011, 11:39 am

        Good for Hilton for showcasing it. Complete 360 for him.

  • Katie @ Peace Love and Oats September 17, 2011, 7:09 pm

    Honestly, I think it would be a good thing. When I was in middle school we had just gotten AIM and it was brutal. Even my best friends and I would call each other names. The problem with the internet was that we couldn’t tell people’s tones of voices, so we got into arguments easily by taking things the wrong way and that’s when the bullying began. I think knowing that your parents monitor your typing could either keep a kid in check, or cause them to use a different form of bullying. Not sure if it would be the best method – I think it depends on the kid. Either way, parents should be talking to their kids about these things anyway, without waiting for the computer program to tell them it’s necessary.

  • Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga September 17, 2011, 7:11 pm

    Cyberbullying is real and it exists not only for kids, but for adults, too. Anyone who has had mean things written about them online or who has been the victim of other people’s harsh words, whether in person or online…it ALL hurts and it all has effects. I know people who have gone into deep depressions over bullying (both real life and cyber) and have actually known someone who has committed suicide over bullying, teasing, and yes there were other issues at play, but the bullying was a big component. Such a sad, sad thing.

    If someone was talking to my daughter about beer or the word slut was coming up in her online vocabulary and interchanges, I’d really hope she could tell me about it but the software could also be an important tool.

    Thanks for this post!

  • CJ @ September 17, 2011, 7:46 pm

    I work in a middle school/high school and deal with this every single day. and I do believe girls are worse than boys because i see it, consistently, especially through things like facebook. my younger cousins actually attends my school and the poor thing had someone hack into her facebook, while she was sleeping at my cousins house, and messaged a bunch of their fellow classmates with annapropriate text. my cousin got in a lot of trouble because no one knew it wasnt her, and then she was threatened to be shunned by any of her friends if she told on the girl who wactually did it!
    i just think its horrible and i wish people operated under the idea that if u cant say/do anything nice dont say/do anything at all. what happened to that mantra?

  • Kristen @ The Concrete Runner September 17, 2011, 8:17 pm

    Although I can see where that is kind of “helicopter parenting”, I don’t necessarily disagree with the program. I live in a town that had a huge nation-wide cyberbullying case, where the middle school girl ended up committing suicide due to being bullied on Facebook. I think that if something like that can be prevented through TrueCare, it’s well worth it.

    • CaitlinHTP September 18, 2011, 11:19 am

      I agree… Maybe it’s not the best thing for every case but if it stops one person from committing suicide or doing harm to themselves in other ways, amen!

  • Maryea @ Happy Healthy Mama September 17, 2011, 8:21 pm

    I think that this kind of tool is important. While we all hope we’ll have the type of relationship where our son or daughter will tell us everything, you can never be sure. Having a backup plan is important. The consequences are too high to worry about being creepy. Our job is to protect our kids.

  • Heather September 17, 2011, 8:27 pm

    I think it is great. As much as I agree with building a relationship with your kids, not every kid has that relationship with their parents. Also, I work with parents who aren’t as internet savvy as their kids.

    I work in a high school, and it is crazy how many girls report other girls texting/facebooking/tweeting rude, harassing, and inappropriate things to each other. We even had a girl take pictures of herself wearing nothing but lettuce and sent it to everyone. (Yes..lettuce). I think we need as many tools as possible to protect and help our kids be safe.

  • Sarah September 17, 2011, 8:30 pm

    Parents should never expect a computer program or company to do their job for them. Period.

    • Selena September 17, 2011, 9:39 pm

      That is totally true, but a tool like this could help those of us that are involved with our kids as well. I don’t see this program as something that would do my job for me but it would be a great tool in my parenting tool belt.

      I do see that some parents could use it inappropriately however.

    • Heather September 18, 2011, 7:11 am

      Not a replacement for actual parenting..I agree with you.

  • Anne Marie September 17, 2011, 8:38 pm

    I’ve always known that bullying was a huge problem (both conventional and cyber), but it wasn’t until I started working at a new school this year that I’ve noticed it at full throttle. I help with unloading the buses in the morning, and there’s been a kiddo getting off everyday crying because someone hit him or her. One little boy didn’t even know the kid who was beating on him!!

    The root of the problem, in my opinion, is definitely the parents. My husband always says that the problem with bullying is that every bully is someone else’s kid. And parents aren’t quick to accept responsibility, or give consequences.

    • CaitlinHTP September 18, 2011, 11:17 am

      Aw that is so sad… I would be so upset to see a student cry every day.

  • Selena September 17, 2011, 9:25 pm

    Fortunately mine aren’t old enough to worry too much about this yet but it is coming SOON since my oldest is 7 1/2. Boo! Before I had kids, I totally would have thought this was creepy and you should just communicate and know what your kids are doing and of course teach them better. Now that I have kids and have seen my nieces grow into teenagers, I have a different opinion. Anything you can use to help you stay aware of what is going on in their lives during that phase where they won’t tell you…or they tell you one thing and do another…is gold in my book. I think there’s a statistic out there that most teenage girls have more than one facebook profile, the one they have their info on and keep “wholesome” with their parents as friends and the one where they really interact and have pics posted that they shouldn’t. It is apparently the majority. Scary, parents think they know what is going on but they really don’t.

  • Kath September 17, 2011, 9:26 pm

    Cyberbullies don’t end when middle school ends…and that is really sad.

  • Hillary September 17, 2011, 9:45 pm

    Oy. Cyber-bullying is a BIG deal in middle school now. We constantly address it with our students: we have seminars, we read books, we hold panel discussions. At the end of the day, what Kath said in the comment above me is true: cyberbullying doesn’t end when these kids are 14. There are plenty of ADULT cyberbulliers out there. We just need to teach them to protect themselves and respect others and hope it sticks.

  • Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife September 17, 2011, 10:05 pm

    That is really interesting stuff! I never had to deal with that stuff as a child…..these kids have to go through a lot! I think it is important as parents to really talk to the child and know him/her so he/she can trust the parent enough to talk to the parent about that stuff.

    By the way, my little sister is in GOTR at her school and loves it!

  • Tiffany September 17, 2011, 10:18 pm

    The amount of bullying going on with such young children these days is horrifying. I want to see more people putting the pressure on the parents of the bullies to make it stop. Parents are 100% in control. Anyone who says otherwise just doesn’t want to put forth the effort. If my kid was bullying another child, I would do whatever it takes to get it into his head that it is NOT ok and will NOT be tolerated. I wouldn’t care if I had to pull him out of school to home school, seek intensive psychiatric therapy, or severe punishment. Our neighbor’s 12 year old daughter bullied my son relentlessly for over a year. I confronted the girl only to be met with “you can’t tell me what to do” and countless eye rolls. Sadly I got pretty much the same response from the parents. I honestly think that kids who are bullies and who have parents that refuse to stop it, should be placed into residential treatment facilities to deal with whatever issues they have. Too many kids are living in fear of school, are miserable, and are being driven to suicide because these brats get some sick enjoyment out of it.

    • CaitlinHTP September 18, 2011, 11:16 am

      GAH!!! I can’t believe the kids rolled their eyes at you. I would’ve died.

  • TC September 17, 2011, 10:34 pm

    My brother monitors my 10-year-old niece’s online time in this way: she doesn’t get any. Ha!

    About a year ago my niece secretly setup a Facebook account with her grandma’s email. When her grandma (my mom) started getting email messages that “so-and-so has left you a message” she thought it was spam, until one of them read, “S, why do you use a fake name? Oh that’s right–your dad won’t let you have a FB account.”

    Kids are SAVVY. And having once been a lot younger and had a lot of unmonitored time online, I can say with confidence that kids will find a LOT of stuff online that is inappropriate and beyond their comprehension if left alone. It’s pretty scary and while I think monitoring for key words is kind of weird, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with parents restricting access to the Internet.

  • Katy September 17, 2011, 10:48 pm

    I had someone create a screen name that was mine, using an “I” where I had an “l” (meaning, L), and it was irritating and really screwed some things up with certain friends. That being said, my parents knowing about it would’ve done nothing to help and would’ve embarrassed me. I also experienced cyber bullying on a message board about Georgia Competition Cheerleading in high school, and the bullying didn’t bother me, but the fact that adults knew about it and tried to console me did.

    SO…when it comes to what I experienced, this kind of software just would’ve made the kid’s life awkward and uncomfortable. And it would’ve solved nothing. That being said, cyber bullying can be crazy serious, so I can’t say for sure I wouldn’t do it bc I don’t have kids yet.

  • Kate (What Kate is Cooking) September 17, 2011, 11:41 pm

    It’s so sad that kids so young are being cyberbullied. I babysit a 10 year old kid (who’s never been cyberbullied, to my knowledge) but has total access to the internet and she’s always telling me about really inappropriate things she saw!. I don’t know about the software. In some ways, it seems like too much, but my parents monitored my computer time when I was young and while it was really annoying at the time, it was probably for the best!

  • Sarah September 18, 2011, 12:21 am

    Ok, so I’ve never posted here before, but I feel a need to chime in on this. I’m 18, so I’m pretty close to the other end of what you are talking about (as a kid, not a parent). First of all, I was never cyberbullied, fortunately, so I cannot really talk about the benefits of such software for that. Also, I got fb when I was 14, in ninth grade, and kids are getting it younger and younger now, which I do think is bad. But I think that for most kids, such software would be unnecessarily invasive. As an 18 year old girl, I know lots of other teenage girls, and and fb friends with them. Very few post inappropriate pictures or comments. The comment above about the majority of 13 year old girls having “clean” fb pages for their parents and real ones for all of their inappropriate stuff–I have never even heard of anyone doing that. So unless the 13 year olds are doing more inappropriate things online than the older teens, I do not think it’s that common. When I was younger, my parents definitely had some sort of parental controls on the computer, I don’t know how it worked, and I don’t know if they ever checked it. But it was not particularly invasive. My parents are very good at what they do, and raised me very well, and never considered anything more invasive. They never even wanted to be Facebook friends with me. They knew I was smart enough not to do anything stupid online, but let that be my online space. Just like they do not see or hear what I do and say when I hang out with my friends, they don’t see the pictures or posts about it on fb–not that there’s anything to hide, it’s just nice to have a personal life.

    People above were talking about hoping to be the kind of parent whose kids tell them everything–that’s not necessarily a good thing. I love my parents and think they’re amazing, but I do not tell them everything, and that’s ok. It’s good to have part of my life be my own. It’s important to learn to deal with problems on my own sometimes. I’m not talking about instances of 10 year olds being bullied (I don’t think they should be using social networking sites in the first place), but this software sounds like in most cases it is too extreme.

    • CaitlinHTP September 18, 2011, 11:15 am

      Thanks for this comment, Sarah! I really enjoyed hearing your perspective.

  • Khushboo September 18, 2011, 1:09 am

    The issue of cyber-bullying is so sad to fathom! I just can’t get my head around bullies–> WHY? What pleasure do they get watching other people get hurt! While I do think this system is an invasion of privacy, I also think it’s the lesser of 2 evils. If cyber-bullying is left alone, lord knows what it will escalate to in the next year!

  • Jaclyn September 18, 2011, 1:32 am

    I love seeing all that you do with OB…. because it really continues to be so much, and such important things!

    I think Cyber bullying is just another way that bullying has been taken to the next level… its crazy.. I’m not even that old and I definitely had to deal with bullying in elementary/middle school but I feel like i just missed the cusp of escaping the “cyber” ness of it.. I have seen documentaries/movies that have really highlighted – and known stories of those who have been affected by – cyber bullying. I think it’s important for parents/teachers/mentors to be involved and to teach kids how to NOT be involved in the first place, and how to not be victims of it in the second, but also how to AVOID it in general. It’s crazy because in this day and age, with ten year olds running around with iphones and blackberrys’, this is obvs a prevalent, relevant issue. cheers to you for being on that panel; a good and important one I think!

  • Susan September 18, 2011, 7:35 am

    Cyber bullying isn’t anything I really gave much thought to unti I moved back home and now see it ALL the time with my 14 & 15 year old sisters. They are always, always getting into arguments with other girls over Facebook. Either they’re the ones telling girls off online, or they’re crying their eyes out because some other girls said downright NASTY things to them online. It’s hard to monitor and control, and even if you do know it’s happening, what are you going to do? My older sister has contacted some of the cyber bullies on Facebook to ask them to stop, but it does no good (and probably makes it worse). I think girls are a lot more likely to say mean things when cloaked behind a computer screen, so in some ways the internet makes it even worse. I just feel so bad for my step-sisters for having to put up with it. Being a teenager is hard enough!

    • CaitlinHTP September 18, 2011, 10:07 am

      That’s sad.. So much drama. 🙁

  • Carly (Swim, Run, Om) September 18, 2011, 9:36 am

    People seem to be more concerned as to whether or not the software is a tool for good parenting or not, which is not the point. It’s not about the parent, it’s about the child being bullied (and the bully him or herself). And while the software seems like a good idea and may be appropriate for some families (whether you want to use it with your child or not is up to you, although I would suggest letting your child know that the software is on the computer), it ultimately doesn’t solve the problem of bullying, either online or off, because you would be reacting to a problem that had already started rather than being proactive.

    I also would like to see a tad more concern for the bullies. Yes, the bullies. Because while some people are just jerks, especially if they are adult bullies, children who are bullying may be mimicking behavior they see at home, or may have mental health issues. Bullying in school is so much more than “people are mean.” We can’t expect children to really understand that (heck, I didn’t understand that until a couple of years ago), but as adults we should be able to look at BOTH sides of the problem. It just seems that whenever anyone discusses bullying, either in school or online or in the workplace, the concern is always placed with the victim.

    • CaitlinHTP September 18, 2011, 10:02 am

      This is a wonderful comment and I completely agree! You are so wise Carly 🙂

  • Ellie@fitforthesoul September 18, 2011, 11:14 am

    I think that relationally helping the kids to be good online citizens, is a better way to go. I think too much intruding in a way that the parent comes off as a “police” (or word- police in this case) makes children be sneakier. Maybe they would prefer to talk about it with their parents, rather than be monitored all the time. After all, I believe that if cognitively and emotionally they’re stable, then this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

  • Amber K September 18, 2011, 12:33 pm

    I would want to build up a trusting relationship with my future children, but that being said I would also let them know that I was monitoring certain words. I like the idea that it would just flag certain key words. And I wouldn’t hide the fact that I want them to be safe and kind online.

  • Hayley @ Oat Couture September 18, 2011, 3:16 pm

    I can definitely see how software like that would be useful… although maybe the word ‘beer’ being a red flag word is a little too much, I personally would much rather my (imaginary) kids feel that when they get to a certain age and start getting inquisitive about things such as beer, sex etc etc they can talk to me about it. Although I do think it’s normal that kids have secrets, it’s all part of the process! 🙂 On the flip side though I do think that nasty, hateful words should be flagged, bullies should be caught and dealt with, simple as that.

  • kristen September 18, 2011, 3:16 pm

    Im not sure about truecare. Right now my son is only 6 and he talks about everything. But later, I know he wont. I have also heard stories on the new when kids get bullied so much they commit suicide. Its sad to think it is happening, but is it better to catch it early? I would think so

  • Marissa C September 18, 2011, 4:11 pm

    I would use the program, though my kids would know I am using it. I think that is fair.

    As someone in IT, my kids will be getting LOTS of lessons about how to safely use the internet in forums, Facebook, and even learning what links not to click on!

    • Marissa C September 18, 2011, 4:14 pm

      PS…one more thing.

      As I teen, I appreciated my parents setting clear boundaries because it gave me an “excuse” not to do things my friends pressured me to do. I’ve even heard of kids asking to be drug-tested just so they can use it as an out when they are pressured. I think this internet program could be used in the same way.

  • Kristina September 18, 2011, 4:28 pm

    Someone else commented earlier about the bullies – and what is interesting is that if an individual is a victim of bullying, there is a great chance that he/she will then become a bully. Rather than creating compassion for other people, being a victim can set a person up to then be the perpetrator.

  • Alyssa September 20, 2011, 12:38 pm

    I know I’m late commenting, but when I was growing up, there was a password on the computer and my parents had it. I didn’t use AOL unless they were in the room with me monitoring what I was doing. I understand things are more accessible and different now, but I still think it comes down to parents setting boundaries. Also, as far as bullying in schools, I do agree that it’s a problem, but the media has overplayed it so much, and as a teacher, that drives me crazy. Yes, true bullying needs to be addressed. But parents are ready to call the news because their first grader wouldn’t share her lipstick with another girl, so the other girl told her she wouldn’t be her friend anymore. That is not bullying. It’s become a buzzword and people need to educate themselves about what it truly means before accusing others of doing it.

  • Sophie @ threetimesf September 21, 2011, 2:11 pm

    I think that sort of programme are a bit creepy and a little bit of an invasion on one’s privacy, but on the other hand cyber bullying is a really serious problem and still growing, so something needs to be done. It’s a tough one…

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