Free Internet Monitoring Software For Parents

For parents worried about internet predators, want to know what their kids are viewing and chatting about online, the Harris County District Attorney's office has a new software program that keeps track of computer activities.

The program is called Computer Cop. And Shannon Davis who works in the DA’s office says the first thing you should know about computer cop is that it’s easy to use.

"It’s no harder to install than Turbo Tax or something similar. You just pop the disk in, you follow the prompts and it installs. It has a number of applications on it that allow you to follow your children’s activities online."

There are already products on the market that help parents monitor their children’s online activities, but they stress that this one is much simpler. Plus, it's free.

Davis says the computer will save every image that’s been viewed on the computer. You can also tell the computer to look for certain words and to notify you if your child, or someone your child is chatting with, uses those words.

"When these words pop up, you can have an email sent to yourself, which means you don’t have to wait till later. You get that instant message. You can call home and say, 'Excuse me, Junior.What exactly are you doing?'"

District Attorney Pat Lykos says computers can be an important educational tool, but can also be a safety concern if parents aren’t watching out.

"You cannot relax vigilance in this day in age with respect to your children. It seems that every advancement in technology that we have, the perverts seize upon it first and that we’re always playing catch up."

Lykos gives an example of a recent case involving a young girl who was playing a video game that was hooked up to the internet.

"We had a case in Harris County where an 11 year old girl was being solicited by a male out-of-state, who was pretending to be an 11 year girl and who was grooming her. Fortunately, the father saw an email opened it up and was horrified and brought it to us.  So we became the 11 year old girl and we 'greeted' him when he came to Harris County."

Deputies in the DA’s office will begin passing out copies of Computer Cop at local schools. They’ll also be available to the public at the DA’s downtown office on Franklin Street.