If you haven't been reading for a while, I'll pause for all the sympathy I know my fellow Moms are sending me right now at this revelation.
Because teenagers are fascinating, fabulous and frazzling just as a subset.
And teenage boys are especially...challenging.
They don't always confide in you.
They *never* confide in you. You have to pry those secrets out. (Tip: Younger siblings are good for that).
Plus, with teens you are working on a whole Trust/Responsibility dynamic. You want to trust them (and my kids, knock on wood, are basically good kids), and they want more rights, and with more rights goes increased responsibility, and there's this whole cycle going on.
And one of their new rights is: a computer of their very own. They each have one now, and yes it does make my heart flutter sometimes to think of this.
Their responsibilities? Backing up their important stuff regularly (and by important, I mean not just those latest tunes, guys, but your homework), and adhering to our common sense rules about online behavior (only chatting with online friends they know through IRL interaction, not giving away personal information to any strangers, etc).
One of my biggest scares with the boys was when my oldest, the Owl, would run into problems on the old computer because of something he'd seen online that he "just had to" download. Usually, it was a game or a software patch.
And though we are very careful, he ran into some of those annoying ads that pop up all over your screen.
And once, a virus.
To be safe, I had to wipe the whole hard drive, and start from scratch. Not fun.
Which is why I installed McAfee protection on our old computer. I've trusted McAfee for years as the best anti-virus protection around.
And now, thankfully just when we need it with all these computers in the house, there's McAfee Family Protection.
All you have to do to protect the computers* in your home is install McAfee Family Protection on each one, and you're good to go.
It works for...well, everything!
First, it protects your kids against spyware (that's like what I mentioned above happened to the Owl, where your personal browsing history causes ads to pop up all over your screen).
And of course McAfee has always been my own first defense against viruses.
But it does more.
McAfee Family Protection filters YouTube videos so that your kids don't access content you find objectionable, and even alerts you (through a text message or by email) instantly if your kids are giving out their personal information to strangers over the internet.
If that whole Trust and Responsibility dynamic I mentioned has gone seriously south and you really need to keep a close eye on your kids for a while, you can even record their instant messaging and social media interactions with others.
You can block questionable email addresses if you are worried about cyberbullying.
And McAfee Family Protection even lets you limit their time online.
I know of at least a few parents who could really benefit from this last option, when their kids are having trouble budgeting their online playtime with schoolwork and chores at home.
Including us, really. Our kids often need more than a gentle reminder to get off their computers. Usually it comes down to me yelling, red-faced, at the top of my lungs, "I said get off NOW!"
I wouldn't be surprised to her my head's spinning like Linda Blair's in the Exorcist at that point.
Anyway, trust me, this is a tool you'll actually use. I trust McAfee because I feel that they have the most up-to-date protection out there, and it's really easy to work with for even those of us who are, perhaps, not the technical gurus we'd like to be.
No, don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about here. You know if you're that woman--the one that has to ask her kids how to take a picture with the new camera.
Yes, even you can use McAfee Family Protection.
Now, you may have noticed that I've included this review in our Back to School Bonanza series. That's because, through August 31, 2009, Cool Moms Rule! readers can save $5 off of McAfee Family Protection using this promo code: 5familyprotection.
In addition, if you have any questions you’d like to ask an expert, McAfee’s Chief Cyber Security Mom, Tracy Mooney, is available at firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.mcafee.com/cybermom.
- Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 1 (SP1) or higher
- Microsoft Windows Vista (32-bit platform only) and Windows Vista Service pack (SP1) or higher
- 10 MB Hard Drive Space
- 800x600 or higher Screen Resolution
- 128 MB RAM
- Active Internet Connection
- Microsoft® Internet Explorer 7.0 or later
- Mozilla Firefox 1.5 or later
- For up to 3 PC