Online oversight an evolving challenge for parents

By Eric

CHARLESTON, SC (WCIV) -- Many of us spent the day after Christmas playing with and testing out our new toys. And now more than ever, the gifts we give and get are of the digital variety. But with that technology, comes responsibility.

Because of the Internet and smart phones, teens and even younger children have much more access today than generations past. There are ways to protect your kids, but it will keep you busy.

Jamey Mellis, of Software Solutions and Designs in Charleston, consults with families and businesses on ways to monitor Internet use. Mellis said it's become a full time job just staying a step ahead of the game.

"Absolutely, because there are more and more devices coming out everyday," said Mellis. "First it was the computers, then the laptops, now the phones and the tablets."

He says it's now common and recommended for parents to keep an eye on what their child looks at online, as early as age eight. Young people have become so savvy, Mellis said, kids can get around the firewalls and roadblocks Windows originally set up for parents.

"That's a very common way that kids can get around the software on a computer," he said. "There are so many tools available on the web that teens don't even have to be smart enough today to actually program, they can just download the tool kits out there."

According to Mellis, updated programs like Snoop Stick and Spector Software can be purchased and installed to track Internet history on everything from instant messaging, in and outgoing emails, to Facebook use.

Companies now provide apps that can be downloaded onto smart phones.

"That's how you load software on iPads and iPhones; you use the Apple store and download the app to the computer," Mellis said.

Mellis said the software has been successful in protecting children from online predators, an invaluable tool, in an evolving age.

The monitoring software could run you anywhere from $20 to $100, depending on the program.

If you want more information on this topic, or how to set up your own online monitoring at home, visit