"Parent monitoring effectively erased the negative effects of [teens’] online conflicts."

Sociologist, Robert Faris

Recently, CNN aired a special report about teens’ use of social media. It was called #Being13, and I watched it with great interest. As the CEO of a company that’s just launched RAKKOON—a parenting tool that helps kids learn to use social media responsibly—I’ve spent the last two years of my life focused on this very subject.

After spending nearly an hour talking about the dangers teens face on social media, the show’s experts, sociologist Robert Faris and child clinical psychologist Marion Underwood, had some suggestions for parents:

  • Talk to your teens about what they’re doing online
  • Join Facebook and Instagram to become an active part of your child’s social network.

Monitoring is Hard

I couldn’t agree more. In fact, this is exactly what our nearly two years of research into solving these problems has told us. There’s no substitute for engaged parents who know what’s going on with their kids online and who teach their kids how to handle difficult situations.

There’s a catch, though. How can you be there with your kids online when they want enough privacy to explore relationships on their own, and when aspects of social media seem purposely designed to make it hard for parents to monitor?

Just watching over their shoulders or following their public posts didn’t feel like it was enough.

RAKKOON Enables More Effective Monitoring

RAKKOON alerts you, and your kids, to concerning content

When we set out to come up with a way to use technology to help families in the social media world, we asked a lot of questions... and we asked a lot of people. Through hundreds of hours spent talking with families, and several hundred more hours of research and testing, we learned what parents and kids want and don’t want.

We designed RAKKOON to help parents in what has always been a blind spot for them—social media—and we did it in a way that allows for insight and teachable moments while still preserving the child’s sense of privacy. RAKKOON is a conversation starter.

Preserving Kids' Privacy

Both parents and kids have the RAKKOON app installed on their phones, and an alert goes to both if our service detects something concerning. Alerting both parents and kids—monitoring collaboratively—was the biggest research breakthrough we had. Monitoring is transparent, and it's not spying if they know you're there.

Know About Concerning Content

We agree with the experts that you should be a part of your kids’ social media networks, but that takes a significant amount of time and effort. #Being13 said some kids check their social media accounts as many as two hundred times a day. Your kids might have time to do that, but do you? We’ve taught our advanced machine learning software to flag questionable content and notify parents—so it’s no longer necessary for you to dig through every post and chat message. It’s good to know anything problematic will come to your attention, whether or not you go looking for it.

See What Your Kids See And Send

The CNN researchers didn’t find direct evidence of self-harm or of child predators grooming kids. But we did—when we did our own research and were able to look at private messages, the kind CNN didn’t have access to.

That was a major factor in designing RAKKOON: full insight into your child’s social media world means monitoring is not limited to just what they publicly post or see. You also get access to what’s going on in the private portions of Instagram and Facebook, the direct messages between your child and others. There is no another app or service out there that offers this depth of insight.

RAKKOON's recent update

We just hit a huge milestone with the release of our latest update. Now, RAKKOON keeps everyone posted on flagged content from Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. The app also lets you know how much time your child spends on social media apps like Snapchat, as well as sending you an update on when they're using those apps. Parents also get a heads-up when their kids start using a new social app (we currently cover 50+ with an ever-growing list!). Finally, our new release offers push notifications—so you'll have the option to be notified right from the lock or home screen of your phone when something comes up that needs your attention.

And, of course, we’re continuing the process of teaching the software to recognize content that’s potentially harmful. We’re happy to report that our early users tell us the transparent approach makes them more comfortable with monitoring. They consistently let us know that they’re having more open and positive conversations about what’s going on in their teens’ lives. The kids know what their parents are seeing, so they have the opportunity to provide explanation and context for what’s happening. It’s not magical—sometimes the kids would rather not have any monitoring at all—but they also say that it’s nice knowing their parents are there working to keep them safe.

If you think RAKKOON could help you keep up with your kids on social media, sign up for a free two-week trial.