• United States

Tool monitors your children’s IM conversations

May 18, 20042 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMessaging Apps

* IM-Protector watches kids’ IM conversations for keywords

IM-Age offers IM-Protector, a software product with an annual subscription that allows parents to monitor their children’s instant messaging conversations via any Web browser.

A software tool is installed on a home PC used by the child, and all IM and chat-room conversations are then logged by an IM-Age server that can be accessed from a browser. A parent can create keyword alerts to be notified when certain words are used in the conversations. Notification can be sent to a cell phone via text message, via e-mail, and so forth.

IM-Protector does not install on the parent’s system, since all monitoring occurs via a browser-based interface. The product monitors IM clients from AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo.

Interestingly, while IM-Protector is clearly not an enterprise product, IM-Age is marketing it as one. The company has created its Corporate Child Watch Program, in which employers are encouraged to purchase the product for employees with children. The company is marketing IM-Protector as an extremely inexpensive adjunct to a company’s benefits program – just a fraction of the cost of health insurance per employee. A 12-month license for IM-Protector costs $80 at retail, although IM-Age offers deep discounts for corporate licensing.

I think that IM-Protector is a great tool for helping parents keep tabs on the people with whom children are conversing with via the Internet considering that the threat from creeps trying to seduce children online is an extremely serious one. But I’m skeptical as to how receptive employers will be to providing this capability to their employees with children.

In an age in which corporate benefits are getting ever more expensive, offering another benefit to employees that can provide only soft cost savings might be a hard sell to an employer. That said, I can see how an employer – particularly a socially conscious one – could make good use of a tool like this for press announcements, for improving corporate morale, and so forth, much like offering daycare services to employees can provide positive benefits, if not hard cost savings.