COMMENT:

The app allows parents to monitor their children's devices inside and outside of the home, limit downloads and purchases, set turn-off times, block X-rated sites and restrict access to social media.

The system sorts websites into risk categories, sends parents an alert when a child tries to access a high-risk site, and emails parents weekly reports on what sites their children have looked at.

Birkenhead College says this precautionary security app will allow students to focus on their education and ensure they are not exposed to unsafe or inappropriate material.

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Some parents were nonplussed, being of the 'I trust my kids and we have an open and honest relationship' school of parenting.

The Council for Civil Liberties, as could be expected, says the move is a step too far.

A spokesman said young people may have issues they would rather their parents not know about — questions about their sexuality, perhaps, or contraception — and if they want to access sites related to these concerns, they should be able to do so without their parents being notified.

I can see both sides. I understand why some parents would be uncomfortable about trawling through their child's online world.

Equally, I appreciate that parents want to keep their kids safe.

In this 21st century it's not the real-world monsters you have to worry about, lurking down alleyways and hiding in parks.

The real damage is being done in the digital sphere, where kids are persecuted through social media apps.

It makes me sick to think of the boys and girls living in terror because of the relentless torment unleashed by their erstwhile friends via the internet.

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And I wonder, given the shocking statistics released this week around New Zealand's adolescent mortality rate, whether parents have a duty to monitor their children's internet activity.

In case you missed it, a report from Britain's healthcare thinktank, Nuffield Trust, ranked New Zealand highest of the 19 wealthy developed Western countries it surveyed when it comes to the death rate for teenagers and young people.

When compared with Australia, Canada, the US, Sweden, Japan and the like, we had the highest suicide rate for 10- to 14-year-olds. And the highest suicide rate for 15- to 19-year-olds.

I knew our suicide rates were horrific. But when they're put up against stats from other countries just like ours it sheets home just how big a problem we have.

It is horrifying to think that an 11-year-old would rather die than live in this beautiful country of ours — that they don't believe in a tomorrow for themselves.

We can postulate all we like about why this might be. And there is no one simple answer.

But I wonder just how many parents only discovered, when it was far too late, that their child had been a victim of relentless persecution online.

How do you allow your children their privacy and a certain amount of self-determination, while protecting them as they negotiate the treacherous terrain of adolescence?

You want to believe your child when they tell you everything is fine. But when the technology exists to monitor just how fine they truly are, should you use it?

There is no doubt it's tough being a teenager today, but I think it's an even tougher world for the parents who love them.