There are a few ways to check on your teenager’s relationships to determine if they are in a dangerous or troublesome relationship or situation. Most of their relationships will involve technology, so accessing their “technology” will clue you in. All their relationships will involve text messages by phone, instant messaging by computer, social sites like Facebook, Myspace, etc…,emails, etc…
The first step I can recommend in advance is to not allow a child their own computer in their own room that they can place a password lock on. If the computer is a desktop model in the den or living room where the family congregates, they are less likely to involve their selves online with suspicious individuals. If they have placed a password lock on their computer, you may have to do some serious threatening to disconnect internet, etc…to get that taken off the computer. If you are seriously worried about your child’s activity and relationships, I would remove internet access from all but the main home computer. They can still use their private computer to do their homework, etc…and save it.

The easiest scenario would be to be able to get on the computer and access the accounts they have set up. If they do not know you are computer savvy or don’t have siblings nosing around, they may have their passwords saved and you can just access their stuff! More than likely, they have their email accounts, instant messengers and such locked up with passwords.

Next, I suggest you check the history on the computer. All kids know how to delete history, but they may not do it all the time.. They may not know that you know how to read it. Check the history, and you can go in and change the history to be saved for two weeks or something. Also check the temporary internet files.

Pull up the instant messenger they use and see if they have the password saved….you can check the profile message and their friend list. Create an account for your self on the same service…send yourself the friends list if possible. Or save it and then upload it to your own screen name. You can monitor these “friends” a little by their profiles and away messages on their instant messenger; some also will give links to their blogs…BINGO! You can get tons of info from their blogs. These silly people will tell everything they are doing, legal or not, on a blog!

Next, to the serious business…,.,a keystroke logger. This is the ultimate spy tool to spy on your teenager or anyone else for that matter…wayward husband, etc. It is also a serious invasion of someone’s privacy, so use with care and caution. Also, you may find out things you DON”T want to know. You can download them online for free, but many of those have Trojan worms. You need to be very careful. If you are financially able, I would purchase one to avoid that risk. These record EVERY keystroke…including passwords…which are invaluable! You get their side to all conversations, etc… These are a good tool to have in case your teenager is ever missing or unaccounted for, you can access these conversations and see if they discussed a liaison or suspicious activity. You have to read the instructions well to be sure the key logger is in invisible mode. Once they know you are considering this, they will know to check for signs of alien software. So I don’t recommend you threaten them first, but just do it. You can also get password “catcher” software that will get those passwords to their email, Facebook, Aim, Myspace, etc….

You can sign up for accounts with facebook and myspace yourself and hope to be able to read some of their friends’ blogs….there is a chance their own page is not made private. I used this tool to determine who my freshman daughter could ride in the car with. She was a very well-behaved young lady, but, from their myspace comments, I could tell who was drinking, etc…and who was level-headed. So we had an understanding about which people she was allowed to ride with.

Cell phone conversations. Besides the obvious of picking up their phone and accessing the text messages on their in the incoming and outgoing boxes while they are sleeping or in the shower, there is a little known secret. With certain cell providers, if you purchase a new phone for your child, the old phone may still pick up a duplicate of a portion of text messages they are getting. This can be extremely important. Also, make note of ANY phone numbers coming in on your home phone, their phone, or these text messages you access and keep in a little book with notes about who you think it might be or what activities or whatever were associated with that number….maybe a date beside it when they called. If your child is missing, you have a place to start calling and trying to find them. AT two in the morning when they have not showed up and don’t answer their phone, this will be a Godsend to have. In the old days, you could use a phone book, and call people….not any more because of cell phones.

While these techniques seem harsh to many of you and certainly ARE an invasion of privacy, those of you with a teenager in trouble or possibly in a dangerous situation understand the value of being two steps ahead. I advise that you not use the information or disclose that you have this information unless a serious situation developes. It will destroy the trust between you and your child, and you will then LOSE your tool to keep them safe.

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