Back in the day before the internet, teens would communicate by actually speaking to one another. On a telephone, parents could monitor at least half of the conversation. But social media has changed the parenting game, and it's hard to know how to handle it.
Yes, in the era of social media, it's become extremely difficult to monitor your teen's online communication, but not impossible. "You need to have your kids passwords to every single thing that they're on. And I tell them up front, you know I don't want to do it in secrecy, I don't want to lie about it, that's not the right message to send them. You can tell them, I trust you but there are people who will take advantage of you. There are people who are harmful who can be harmful to you," said Dr. Christi Cooper-Lehki, a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at West Virginia University.
According to a recent study, teens are posting an enormous amount of personal information on their social media profiles. This includes videos of themselves, their email address, the town in which they live, their birthday and the name of their school.
"There are apps that you can get that alert you to what your children are doing for almost every single device app site that they can go to. There are ways that you can monitor what is going on and it will alert you to pictures and wording and you can see the ages of their friends on Facebook for example," said Dr. Cooper-Lehki. "Now people may lie of course. But you know if there is a strange name on there, you have no idea who it is, you need to see who that is."
Parents should also monitor the amount of time their kids are spending online, according to WVU doctors. "How much time is too much? If it's interfering with normal social development, family time or homework, then it's too much. You're the parent. You decide," said Dr. Rolly Sullivan from WVU's School of Medicine.