Who is your child talking to online?

Q. Is there a way for you as a parent to keep up with who your child is talking to via instant messaging and what is being said?

A. Yes, there are parental control programs such as IamBigBrother, PC Tattletale, and eBlaster that will allow you to monitor your child’s online conversations. These programs run invisibly on a computer and make use of a “keylogger,” meaning every keystroke (or keystrokes made within a certain program) on a computer can be recorded. Some programs, such as eBlaster, can even send results to your e-mail account while others require you to visit a special Web site to see the results. Other programs, such as PC Tattletale, can take screenshots so you can see exactly what your child sees.

Incidentally, if your child uses Yahoo! Messenger or MSN Messenger, you should know that both programs can be set to record and save conversations automatically. In Yahoo! Messenger, click Messenger>>Preferences. Then click on “Archive” on the left menu. In MSN Messenger, click Tools>>Options. Select “Messages” from the left menu and then select “Message History.”

[ Adapted from a tip by Kim Komando. She’s a superb source for solid computer advice. You can listen here locally in the Houston area to her radio show on 740 AM at various times on Saturdays or Sundays. ]