AOL Launches SafeSocial….To Screen Your Kid's Every Friend

aol_logoThis week, AOL unleashed a new tool to help parents sleep at night, a tool called SafeSocial that protects kids on the internet. SafeSocial grants access to key pieces of information about kids’ internet accounts, social media friends, photos and posts with key words that respond to danger. A signature of the tool seems to be the fact that kids have to agree to their parents’ use of SafeSocial. In other words, SafeSocial is less like spying than say, supervising with permission.

AOL is now offering a free 30 day trial for the new product, after which it costs $9.99 per month. The company launched SafeSocial by licensing SocialShield’s technology, and the product has the ability to screen kids’ friends across 50 different databases. Once you enroll in the free trial, the data parents get about their kids’ information is organized pretty clearly in a dashboard format:


The dashboard gives parents notification alerts for suspicious and/or worrying conversations. These conversations include profanity and language about drugs, sex, violence, alcohol and suicide. Also on the dashboard are easy-to-access tabs for exploring other aspects of their online presence. When you click on “Friends,” you see the following page:


The friends page is most useful for quickly alerting parents to friends of their child who might not be age appropriate. SafeSocial will also flag friends who show up in national criminal databases. But while the friends page is all about age, gender and mutual friend details, kids’ general posts and conversations are only summarized, which counters against invasion of privacy. However, parents have the option of looking at their kids’ full conversations if they feel it’s necessary.

The program does a decent job of appealing to kids by playing up the fact that they have to grant their parents permission to use SafeSocial. The company also emphasizes that SafeSocial means parents don’t actually have to friend their kids on Facebook.

Interestingly, a report this summer said that half of kids think they navigate the Web more carefully than adults. Perhaps next we’ll see a tool that lets preteens and teens monitor their parents’ online activity.