When his 13-year-old son asked for a Facebook page, Ron Stevenson decided it was an opportunity to teach him a few lessons. Without taking a confrontational stance, Stevenson approached it as a time to teach his son what is right and what is wrong to do when you are online.
As Product Manager for GoGoStat, Stevenson knows a bit about setting ground rules for his son when he is online. GoGoStat, a free application which launched in June, runs as an interface with Facebook to alert parents when something inappropriate is posted by their kid. They have a 20,000-word database, developed with the help of law enforcement, which contains profanity, gang terms, slang, slurs and drug acronyms.
Just like any other Facebook external application, you must give permission for the tool to run on your profile, which gives parents an opportunity to have a discussion with their kids about what is appropriate. In order to match the parent with their child, a numeric password is required for both child and parent so they can match up safely. Once the link is made, the child will not notice any difference in their interface with the application or Facebook.
While it is possible for a kid to decide to not to accept the tool, the parent may have to decide on a punishment such as taking away phone privileges or Facebook privileges until the child acquiesces, Stevenson suggests.
Unlike other monitoring tools, GoGoStat only flags what it deems to be questionable, instead of showing the parent every update. Also, you can view what photos your child is posting to make sure they are appropriate.
Not only can parents view the derogatory terms, they can also see if their child is posting items that can compromise the family’s safety such as an address, new big-ticket items they might have purchased or their vacation status. Instead of using it as a reason to punish, you can use the alerts as a good reason to have a discussion, or better yet, set ground rules before the activity begins so you can discuss violations of that family contract.
Likewise, you can see who your child is friending, how old they say they are and where they are located. If your child is friends with a lot of out-of-state people and there’s no explanation, you may want to have a conversation with your child about how they’ve met these folks.
Also, we tend to think of our child as a potential victim but our child could be a possible cyberbully. This tool can also help you see if your child is putting themselves in a position of becoming a bully, and therefore, a threat to someone. This is another situation you will want to address immediately.
While it may seem easier to simply friend your child and watch their wall posts, if you have multiple children, this can be quite a task, according to Stevenson. The ease of receiving an email when posts are made or photos uploaded can make your life much easier.
Developed by many former MicroSoft employees, GoGoStat also includes a feature that can print an instant report for law enforcement in the case of abduction or a criminal incident to help the police see what the victim may have posted, who they were talking to and the timeframes of when they were online. It also allows law enforcement to get current photographs of the child as opposed to using studio photos from years ago.
According to Stevenson, later this year, they hope to roll out several enhancements that will cost as a premium service such as smart phone applications. Another premium enhancement will include ethnic customizing so if a family uses specific phrases that might be flagged otherwise, they can approve certain language that’s acceptable to them.
Also, a parent will have the ability to enter specific phrases such as someone’s name, to be alerted to in posts. The example Stevenson gave is “Ashley” – if your child is targeting a girl named Ashley – “Ashley, you looked so stupid in those jeans today” – you could get an alert regarding posts about Ashley.
So if you have young children who are on Facebook or want to be on Facebook, GoGoStat is the perfect tool for you and a great way to lay the groundwork for a healthy online life for your child.]]>