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KidQuery: Online Detective for your Kids

Worried about your 12 year old daughter's activity on ? Is she talking to strangers, sharing her pictures or revealing telephone number and home address to predators online ?

If any of these thoughts trouble you, look at KidQuery, a free service that will monitor your child's activity on networking websites and send you daily reports.

KidQuery's response: We do not monitor the child's profile nor do we send daily reports to their parents. This is too much of an intrusive approach and can in some instances act a deterrent towards the safety of children. We allow a parent to logon to our site and generate a report on their child, if we were able to locate them. The parent is able to generate as many reports as they would like, but we do not continually monitor their child's profile.

KidQuery works with MySpace, MyYearbook, Friendster, Tagged, Hi5, and Xanga. The ask for email address of the child using which they registered on these services. While email is an optional field, it can narrow down the time and results to help specifically target the parent's child.

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We had a chance to interview KidQuery over email. Here are the excerpts:

1. What is the minimum information that you require to be able to locate a child on MySpace or Xanga or other websites ?

1) When a parent signs up for the service, we will ask for their general information (i.e. Name, Address, City, State, Zipcode), but will additionally ask for them to select how many children they have. At this point, the parent will enter only their child's first name, last name, and an optional nickname. The parent will be allowed to enter an email address for their child during the actual search, but this is strictly an optional field. However, if they know their child's email address, it can help narrow the number of results and processing time of the search.

2. Assuming that you have located a child's profile, what details of his online activities can you gather for the parent.

2) The amount of information found and displayed in the reports can vary depending on the different social-networking sites. Our focus is to alert parents when their child displays sensitive information such as name, email, phone number, address, etc. Each report displays check marks indicating the type of data the child is exposing. We'll also perform a keyword search on the the child's profile, flagging certain words related to Sex, Drugs, and other behavior that might be cause for concern. Finally, each report contains comments and tips for parents explaining why certain data should not be posted and how to remove the data.

3. Will the service remain free forever ? Or how do you plan to monetize.

3) We are a limited liability company and not a non-profit organization. As such, the possibility for monetary gain is viable, but not anywhere in the near future. We are still in our infancy and want to be able to provide parent's with a valuable service.

4. Do you plan to extend your service to other sites like Flickr, Yahoo 360 etc which are increasingly becoming popular.

4) Our road map for expansion is not definitively defined. We would love to integrate our service into a larger corporation that could take our service to the next level.

5. Can you please share just one or two real life stories where parents have found your service useful.

5) We have had a few so far. One example that comes to mind: A parent wrote us regarding our service. She knew of her child's site and watched it regularly. However, by using our service, she was able to find her child on too. Luckily, she found this site because we ranked her child a "Very High" based on the amount of information she was disclosing ( i.e. screen name, email address, home telephone number). Her child had not logged on for several months. This is a prime example of what we call an abandoned site. Some children will sign up for smaller sites like MyYearbook, but then down the road sign up for and start using the latter regularly and abandoning the former. This left her profile to be viewed by anyone with tons of personal information to be shown. After the parent found this site, she had her child cancel the account account.