Thursday, 28 November 2013

BullGuard Identity and Social Media Protection Review

In a world of technology, where we have unlimited access across multiple devices to the entity that is the internet, it is natural to have concerns about security.  In a cyber world that has no boundaries, there is potential for danger in terms of both cybercrime and child safety. 

As a parent to five children, internet security is something that has been a cause for concern.  We generally try to instill in our children the concept of self-regulation through education.  This works to an extent but as the phenomenon of social media expands, and children begin accessing it earlier, it can be helpful to keep a watchful eye over their activity without being obtrusive or making them feel that they are not being trusted. 

Research, conducted by BullGuard of 200 parents of children aged 10-17,  found that 61% of parents admit to snooping on their children online without their child's knowledge or consent.  38% of these parents believe that if they found out, they would lose their children's trust and admitted to feeling guilty after checking up on their children's online usage. 

According to the research, these are the top ten ways that parents snoop on their children:

1.            Reading messages on social networking sites
2.            Checking their internet history
3.            Reading their text messages
4.            Monitoring their list of friends on social networking sites
5.            Checking their pictures on social networking sites
6.            Reading their emails
7.            Checking their call list
8.            Finding out their passwords
9.            Asking teachers to keep an eye on their internet use
10.          Getting a sibling to help to snoop

This whole subject poses a real moral dilemma. It is clear that there is a need for parents to keep an eye on their children's online activity and for children to have the freedom to enjoy things like Facebook without risk. Having a safety net to alert us to inappropriate content, photos or interactions, allows us as parents to step in to avoid any potential dangers before they escalate.

Social Media Usage Infographic

I have received a copy of BullGuard Identity Protection and Social Media Protection to review.  The box contains a keycode to access the online protection with a quick start guide.

BullGuard Identity and Social Media Protection

It was easy to set up an account with a password and then activate the Licence Key by inputting the code, which gave me access to the Identity Protection and Social Media Protection Tabs.  This gave me access to my dashboard.  It was as easy as that, nothing to physically download and no programs to run.

The Identity Protection monitors your personal details on the web 24/7, such as your date of birth, NI number, driving licence number and contact details as well as your financial details.  You can add and update the information to be sure that your personal information is not being used online without your knowledge. Hopefully I'll never need to test this out to its full extent as that would mean I was the victim of ID fraud, but having the protection in place gives me confidence in the safety of my online activity.

The Social Media Protection allows you to add three Facebook accounts for monitoring.  You can send an email request to your child who can then accept your request, or add an account directly.  I sent the requests because I wouldn't want the kids not to know that I was accessing details from their social media. My girls were very compliant!  Each profile can be accessed separately from the summary page.

It updates you on each account's social media activity such as status updates, friend requests, messages and malicious links.  Keywords are flagged up so anything containing inappropriate language or content is given a risk alert of high, moderate or mild. You can then open any of the events on the dashboard to see them and assess the content.  So far, most of the high risk alerts have contained swear words, offensive language or sexual references, so it is doing its job!  I'm not at all concerned with teenage banter, flirting or moaning, in fact I think it's perfectly healthy for kids to express themselves in this way, but I'd want to step in if anything sinister appeared in their newsfeed or private messages.

I like that BullGuard provides a discreet way of remotely monitoring your child's Facebook activity, without directly invading their privacy.  It gives alerts for each activity with a risk rating, so you can use your discretion as to whether you need to open up the event to investigate further.  You aren't simply watching everything your child and their friends post.  I wholeheartedly believe that children need their privacy, but that needs to weighed up against their online safety. The Social Media Protection gives children the freedom to use Facebook while you keep a watchful eye on their safety.

Having witnessed online bullying and the secrecy and embarrassment that can come with it, being able to oversee any high risk activity containing flagged keywords, will allow you to intervene and open the communication between you and your child, which will hopefully resolve the problem before it gets out of hand.  That makes this a very useful tool.  17% of parents have had to step in after their child received online threats and 10% said their children had been subjected to online bullying, so this is a serious concern in many families.

Half of the parents who took part in the study admitted that their biggest concern was who their children were talking to online. With BullGuard you can monitor friend requests so if anyone you don't know personally tries to add your child, you can check them out and avoid any inappropriate contact.  It gives you an opportunity to remind your child about the dangers of talking to strangers online.  We read so many horror stories in the media about children being groomed, it is vital that we keep our children safe without restricting their freedom or instilling unnecessary fear in them.  We want our children to be technologically savvy and develop their own independence, but it's good to know they are not unwittingly entering into an online relationship with a social predator.

Alex Balan, Head of Product Management at BullGuard says: 

''It's a minefield for parents, whilst you want your children to have freedom and make friends you want to ensure they are safe when they are online. And this is where BullGuard Identity Protection can help. It’s hard enough watching your children 24/7 in the real world, but keeping tabs on their movements online is the real challenge. BullGuard’s Identity Protection ( offers Facebook protection for parents concerned about what their children are being exposed to such as cyber bullying, social predators or inappropriate content. It provides unobtrusive parental controls that permit parents to keep a discreet eye on their kid’s Facebook activities, so they can go back to just worrying about them in the real world.”

This is definitely a useful parental tool for anyone concerned with online safety, who wants to protect their children without restricting their freedom online.


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