SocialShield wants to protect your child from the "new Wild West of the Internet" that is social networking. With dangerous elements including cyberbullies and sexual predators, the San Mateo-based activity monitoring system for
parents offers tools to keep children safe from others, and from their own sharing decisions. The service provides live support and reputation management assistance.
The setup process begins with a subscription fee, or the free trial, and then directly connecting to childrens' Facebook, MySpace and Twitter accounts by using their passwords. If a parent does not know or would prefer not to use a child's passwords, SocialShield can instead send an invite email to the child with directions so that he or she can verify the parent, but they recommend knowing passwords. As their FAQ explains, "It is good parenting practice to know your kids’ passwords, even if you don’t use them to connect with us. Many parents actually set the passwords for their kids in every instance one is required so that they (their kids) cannot change them. In the unlikely event that something happens to your kids, having their passwords will dramatically help authorities expedite their investigations."
Once these steps have been completed, SocialShield watches out for any potentially problematic events. Flags are raised when a variety of actions take place:
An adult befriends the child
A new friend is added that has no friends in common with the child's other friends
A new friend is found to have an account on other sites that children typically do not become a member of - for example, a professional site like LinkedIn
Other determinations based on patent-pending techniques and other heuristic analyses
These flags only notify the parent, and do not block or remove the suspicious individual. It is still up to the parent to talk to the child or delete people from the child's account.
The site can also aid in cyberbullying identification, as well as notify a parent of inappropriate images or other material that a child puts up himself. These include offensive comments, as well as media that could potentially damage a child's future - job or college acceptance, etc.