Tracking Your Kids' Online Activity
The programs work best when you have your kid's password. So, ideally, you would want to have a discussion with your kid about the fact that you want to be able to have some insight into their online world to make sure they are being safe, private, and responsible.
You can also use some of these types of programs without using your kids password and without telling your kid about it. Obviously, this is more like "spying" and parents will really have to decide whether they want to or even need to go that route. Some kids, who may be at risk, might benefit from the information these programs can give parents who are in a position to help them. But some of these products also prey on parents' fears. Your kid's behavior may be fine so you may not need them.
I would recommend that unless you really think something is very wrong—like involvement in cyberbullying—, that you talk to your kid about the fact that you want to use the program. All technological solutions like this have some downsides, so continue to talk to your kid about what's OK to post, what's not OK, how to use privacy settings, and thinking before posting something.
Information provided by Caroline Knorr, Parenting Editor of Common Sense Media. For more tips about teaching your kids to be safe online, visit Common Sense Media.