Monitoring online activity

I’ve been thinking a lot these days about my DS’s online activity. When DD was his age, we had one desktop and it lived in our living room. She got a laptop when she was in middle school, so she could do homework and so that she and I didn’t fight over computer time.  She knew that I had her passwords, that I could check at any time, and that if I ever saw that “quick close” when I walked in the room we’d have a TALK.  It seemed to work for her – she was very open with me, and has made it to (almost) 21 successfully.

DS has had a different route.  He’s grown up with multiple laptops in the house, bought his own laptop last year with money he earned, and has a lot more time alone at home than his sister did.

My main worry so far is the AMOUNT of time he’s online.  But I know that MS/HS is a tricky time and I worry about where he will visit and who he will talk to.Mostly I trust him, and we talk about a lot of stuff, but I also know that there is a lot more “stuff” out there than there was 8 years ago with DD.

How have you all handled this?  If your kids are still young, what have your thoughts been?  Is the old-fashioned route of talking about it, open communication, and some clear boundaries enough, or do we need more?

I was interested in this article in the NYTimes

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/26/technology/software-helps-parents-monitor-their-children-online.html?hp

Have you used any of these tools?  Is this going too far (reading every text to your kid’s girlfriend?) or the appropriate caution with today’s technology?