How to Track Your Children's Whereabouts on the Computer

Chances are you can't watch over your child's shoulder every time he uses the computer. Unfortunately, even an Internet-savvy kid can make mistakes when interacting online. Because you can't monitor his online whereabouts all the time, you can put safeguards in place to alert you to a possible problem. By opening a dialog about Internet activities and installing the right software, you'll know which sites your child frequents and how he spends his time online.

Install tracking software on your computer. Tracking software records actions such as websites visited and keystrokes, and allows you to toggle access to various websites. It's important to rely on something other than your Internet browser history. The National Academy of Sciences warns that smart kids know how to delete their Internet history after visiting forbidden websites 2.

Join the websites that your child is a member of. He might be too young for the 13-year-old age restriction on Facebook, but he might be a member of gaming or kid's club sites. If your child has his own log-in, set an account up for yourself so you can see what he's posting and how he's interacting with others online.

Bookmark your child's favorite websites on the sidebar of your Internet browser, suggests 3. This allows you to first ask your child about his favorite websites and see how he spends his time online, but also makes his favorite websites easily accessible so he's less likely to surf around on his own. In fact, you could institute a rule that he can only access bookmarked sites that have been approved by you.

Ask your child about the sites he likes the best. If you have a few spare minutes, sit down with him and ask him to show you the various websites he visits and how he usually spends time online. This is an ideal opportunity to talk about Internet safety, your house rules regarding websites and to see your child's online interests 3.

Move your family computer to a common area of the home. While you can install software, check your child's online history and join his favorite websites, one of the best ways to know his online whereabouts is proper supervision. A computer in the kitchen or family room means your child can't hide access to certain sites like he might were he to have a computer in his room. Keep an eye on your child and you'll know which sites he visits the most frequently.