To the Well-Intentioned but Ignorant Parents of Teenagers

I’ve been mulling over this topic for quite some time, but this morning it became increasingly clear to me that I must say something about social media and your kids.

Folks, stranger danger is a real thing.

And even more real today than it was ten years ago thanks to, you guessed it, the internet.

I speak specifically to the parents of kids old enough to be on social media. Of course, I am no such parent, but I am a teacher of those kids. I am also only 6-10 years older than the high school students I teach. Maybe that makes me unqualified to speak out, but maybe it makes me the most qualified candidate. Many of my colleagues and the parents of my students are old enough to be my own parents, so I tend to share a camaraderie with my students.

And yet, I am far enough removed to be able to speak in ways that they cannot yet speak for themselves.

The reason this subject has become suddenly so urgent to me is because today I read an article about a new website called YouNow which is essentially a livestream site that a person can set up a camera feed and you can watch it constantly. Users can connect with cameras using hashtags like #sleepingsoundly. In other words, people – teenagers – are setting up cameras in their bedrooms so anyone, any stranger, can watch them sleep… or whatever. And while the stream is happening, there is a constant commentary by all watchers. I watched one today (for about ten seconds because I felt totally creepy) of a teenager somewhere singing on his porch.

The comments ranged anywhere from “you have a great voice you should date me” to much more obscene things like calling the boy a “fag” and telling him he looked like various parts of genitalia. Now yes, this website is not specifically marketed for teens, and yes, there are terms of use that technically prohibit obscenity and illegal acts. But if you know anything about teenagers you know that they quickly find loopholes to most rules.

The internet, especially social media, is NOT safe. And it is sobering how real this is.

You may be thinking “I’m smarter than that. I have a facebook and I watch my kids online.” You might have a Facebook. So do I. And so does my mom and my grandma and all of her friends. But you know who doesn’t have a Facebook? Your kid’s friends.

I took an informal poll of my 150 students at the beginning of the year, and 60-80% of my students don’t even have a facebook. They connect with each other on Kik, an app that allows users to text each other without exchanging phone numbers. They use Snapchat, an app that allows users to send pictures that supposedly disappear forever after ten seconds. They use Whisper, an app that a user can “anonymously” tell their deepest secrets to a vast community of other secret sharers. They use Yik Yak, Vine, Tumblr, Twitter (do you know about subtweeting? you should.), Instagram, Oovoo, WhatsApp, Meerkat, and sometimes even dating apps, like Tinder.

The problem with thinking you’re smart is that I would almost guarantee that there is at least one of those apps you’ve never heard of. And if you aren’t on it, your kids probably will be.

Teenagers typically do not yet understand the importance of internet safety. Along with the age-old feeling of invulnerability that adolescence has always carried, now there is an unprecedented and intimate access to a world wide community of strangers. So instead of driving too fast or sneaking out at night, your kids might be posting naked pictures on a website you’ve never heard of to people they’ve never met.

I know, I know. Your child would never do that!

Let me tell you something: You. Don’t. Know. That. You know those tiny feelings you get every day but you cope nicely because you’re an adult? Feelings like insecurity, boredom, even the loneliness of being at home when your friends are all going out – well these feelings are massive to teenagers. A combination of hormones and inexperience create a veritable powder keg of unpredictable behavior. Insecurity might lead to seeking acceptance from strangers by posting a selfie and waiting for people to reblog, like, or comment on it. Boredom might lead to extended conversations online with someone they’ve never met about deeply personal matters. Loneliness can lead to online sex. No, really. It can.

Please please hear me, parents. I am not an outdated, irrelevant old person sitting on my metaphorical front lawn griping about “kids these days”.

I spend more time with teenagers than I do with people my own age. And in many cases, I spend more time with your teenagers than even you do. I am begging you to give a crap about your kids.  When I was a teenager myself, social media was just gaining popularity and my mom had my Myspace and Facebook password. I never sent a message, posted a picture, or added a friend without her knowing it. It sounds extreme, but I’m safe today because of it. I can’t even count the many times I would have done something incredibly unsafe and irresponsible if not for the fact that I knew my mom was watching.

My success as an adult today can be blamed almost wholly on the fact that my parents were involved in my life. I could go on forever about the rising rate of teen suicides, sexual miscreance, and drug abuse problems that can be traced back to beginnings in social media. These things are real. And if you don’t show up in your kid’s life and give a crap, maybe no one will.

That is all.

** May 22, 2018 Update: Read the follow up post here**

343 thoughts on “To the Well-Intentioned but Ignorant Parents of Teenagers

  1. More scaremongering, no advice.
    So, this has just added to the massive growing anxiety we parents face with social media and our teens but what it doesn’t do is offer any advice at all! The author didn’t post a picture, add a friend etc without her Mother’s knowledge, but that is literally impossible now and also throws up very important issues of allowing teens privacy. So we must “show up” in our kids’ lives – what does that mean exactly?

  2. I am very appreciative of your article. I taught Jr. High and Sr. High English and French for several years before becoming a parent, and I understand how you can become a quasi-parent.

    Here’s my question for you: would you suggest that I get an account on all of these websites in anticipation of my son’s knowledge of them?

    My husband and I do not allow our 12 year-old son to have a phone. When we do, I am sure it will be a narrowly-focused phone with a limited number of persons whom he may call/text.

    However, he has a computer class and some gaming devices with parental controls in place. Should these opportunities for visiting the Internet give enough reason to patrol these websites you listed in your article?

    Thank you for your care of teenagers’ hearts and minds.

  3. My best thought is to not give or allow access to young children or even teens, unless (Teens here) demonstrates maturity. There is no reason why a 8-10 yr old needs to have a cell phone, or Facebook page or private e-mail address- OR access to the Internet.(unless using it for school assignments-and at that, under parental supervision ,, Sorry, I AM from the old school, and if I had young children living at home now, they would not be allowed to come near my computer! and you can just bet, they would not get any hand held devices either for gifts! Let’s get them outdoors to play and get good exercise instead!

  4. Limited access to social media would be a good start…. even get rid of it in one’s home…. kids can be doing so much better with their time & minds!

  5. Also someone who is passionate in the fight against human trafficking and protecting our youth I thank you for this post! Pimps and traffickers use social media and technology to lure our kids. It’s the #1 way of recruitment! Shared this post on my awareness page!

  6. My boy is 15. I intend to do what I’ve always done with my him: Have him read your article and then we discuss it. We’ve been teaching him critical and analytical thinking skills since he was born, and exposing him to things “human” for many years; including decision/choice-making. If he makes the wrong one, well, that too is a thing human. We just do our best with it, love him, and roll forward. Thanks for the good read.

  7. Well said. I’m a parent and you are right about everything. Only thing I would add is make peace with the possibility that you can’t know or control their online life, be involved with them in more fundamental ways that help guide their decision making. Any teenager with an ounce of brains would have one account they tell their parents about and fake names for accounts that they never tell their parents about and the parents will never find out about. Believe it.

  8. I couldn’t agree more. My solution, with two teens? They do not have a smartphone (GASP!) and, believe it or not, they still eat, live and breathe….in other words, they have not died from lack of one! They also do not have tablets. Again, they are still alive! Not only that, but they still manage to have friends and regular conversations with them without the technology. My oldest, who is 17 and driving, has a regular texting phone to use in case of a breakdown, etc. His cell provider is Kajeet, a wonderful company that allows parents to block pretty much anything they want to on their kids’ phones. I have picture texting blocked, to prevent sexting by him or by someone sending things to him. Parents, do not be afraid to say NO to smartphones and technology until such a time that your children are mature enough to know the dangers and how to use them responsibly! For us, we believe that time will not come until college.

  9. I am the parent of two teens and I am so paranoid about these things… We check our kids phones and online activity regularly and since bubby is an IT expert, he knows how to find stuff kids deleted from history or tried to hide. However, there is no way for us to track if they created fake accounts or secondary accounts anywhere. If they use an alias for example. We don’t allow electronics in their room at night, giving an extra layer of protection, but still. I just spend a lot of time talking to my kids about the dangers of social media and hope they are listening.

  10. Yes, yes, yes! I just blogged a post about similar concerns. I loved this post, and I’m sharing it with my parent friends! Thank you!

  11. My kids aren’t old enough to need phones just yet, but here’s my plan. I plan to get them regular old DUMB phones. The only reason I feel kids need phones is when they are old enough to have things come up where they would need to call to let you know when to pick them up, or for emergencies if their car breaks down or something. As a parent, it’s not my job to give them a digital ‘experience’. Maybe it wont work out quite like that, maybe they’ll be dying for an ipod touch or whatever exists in the future. I will definitely take an active approach in whatever comes because frankly, the plugged in generation scares me. I hope that if I live by example and don’t make screens a big part of my life, they will see that there are more important things and spend their time in real life.

  12. The Article is truly great. No children here. I had never heard most of those names of sites that are apparently similar to Facebook. There are enough pitfalls for adults! Like the pics that show up beside email, just like magazines at the registers in stores, except one can catch the viruses on them. Another pitfall for adults, and likely for anyone, are wrong numbers given by a proper site (name of computer) which then turns out to be a hard sell company, either real or criminal.) I had no problem behaving as a child, didn’t want to do wrong things. However, past high school, I had reason to think that I could handle some odd situations. Looking back, with more stories having been heard, etc, teens don’t realize that the supposed friend their age can just as easily be forced to being the bait to get a person in danger with many people. One can’t handle several criminals! Recently, I realized that children are encouraged to try new foods, games, etc. Well, that point is still in their minds to try something new in “stores” that can turn out to be deadly. (sold in stores in America, should be safe, right?” Now Brownies laced with MJ! Another thing I don’t understand is how we are to put our title in the info below, without our whole name being listed! Traps everywhere, even in legal blogs.

  13. Nicole…..
    excellent content …and a timely warning for parents and teens alike.
    Somehow… this sentence got ?misplaced inside your insightful revelations
    ‘I am not an outdated, irrelevant old person sitting on my metaphorical front lawn griping about “kids these days”. ‘
    (end of paste)

    [ perhaps you could examine how that perspective entered ” your” own thoughts]

  14. I am also a teacher, and I feel pretty tech-savvy, but there were at least two of those apps that I had not heard of. This should be required reading for parents of tweens, the age I teach, because that is when all of this starts. If you nip it in the bud and stay on top of your kids, making them give you their passwords, blocking sites on their phones or computers, you can keep your children safe. If they are left to their own devices, they are eventually going to make a bad choice which they may not realize until it’s too late. The world is a different place with the Internet, and parents need to realize it and keep up with the times. My own children are young adults, and I still prefer to be included as a “friend” or “follower” on their accounts, as it is up to me to educate my children and be aware of what they are doing,even if they are over 18. Until they are on their own, I’m responsible for them. Thanks for posting this.

  15. Good read and so true. Unfortunately, the last line reality is probably more appropriately…”if you don’t show up in your kid’s life and give a crap, then the WRONG person probably will.”

  16. Excellent article that many people need to read and take seriously. Every kid is so different, and the scary thing is that even if parents do institute an “I’ll buy you a phone but it belongs to me and I get your passwords” rule, there are still many teenagers who would find ways to sneak around. As the author of this article mentioned, kids can find a loophole with pretty much anything if they are savvy enough. They can make up a second social media account that their parents know nothing about and use it regularly, if not at home then at a friend’s house, the library, or even school. The complexity and wide availability of social media is terrifying, and there are no limits to what kids–even “good” kids–can do with it if they put enough thought into it. It’s not impossible for parents to get a firm handle on this with their children, but it’s a round the clock job that never truly ends. You can’t watch them every second–that much is true–but that’s no excuse to chalk it up to a lost cause and do nothing. Hopefully more parents can be aware and be as involved in their kids’ lives as they possibly can. As for me, all I can say is that I’m grateful every day that the Facebook and Twitter era didn’t explode until I reached college. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have been exposed to that world since birth. Today’s parents have a heavy responsibility on their hands. Awareness of that simple fact is the first step.

  17. Hi there. I’m not sure if you can reply to me, but I was very interested in your blog I found tonight on FB about monitoring your kids. My daughter is 17 and has been in much trouble in the past with regards to social media. As a result she had her phone taken away and has gone a couple of years on and off with it. She hasn’t had it again since the summer now (it’s January) but we bought her a tablet for Christmas. We are looking for an app that will monitor all her activity on the tablet (especially texts) but being a tablet it has to be an app that doesn’t require a phone number attached (no SIM card). It’s an android tablet. Can you help me with anything like that? We have had to take her tablet away right now as well. We are fearful for her.

  18. Thank you so much for this post. My grandchildren’s Church Youth program director sent this out and will be talking on this subject this weekend. It was also touched on at the recent parenting class. I have been an Clinical Nurse Specialist in Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Mental Health for the last 20 years working as a psychotherapist for children, teens and families in crisis. I am also a Family Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. I worked at a Christian wilderness program in NE GA for 4 years from 2003 to 2007 and learned more about parenting than I had learned in school or parenting my one child with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Parent s don’t know how to parent and often don’t want to parent because they are selfish. The man that started the program read every lyric of every song on the music Cd’s before any of his 4 children and teens could buy them. We tried to teach parents about the internet and social media because the kids that were in the program ages 13 – 18 went a year to a year and half with NO ELECTRONICS and learned to be kids.
    My point is that many parents today don’t want to take the time away from the their phone, TV, job or SO to pay attention to what their kids are doing. One of the kids at the program was the victim of a child sexual predator who actually lured him and raped him. When I treat ADHD kids I instruct the parent s that they need to stop all electronics at least an hour to and hour and half before bedtime because we know that all the electronics keeps the brain wired to be on and that’s why so many of these kids have problems falling asleep.
    Thank you for being one of those teachers who care will make a difference in many lives. I just hope that this message gets out to the parents. I plan on printing your blog and making copies of it for not only my two grandchildren but for my patients and their parents. Thank you for taking the time to share all those apps that I have mostly not heard of… Great Job!!!

  19. I agree, it’s pretty rude to start off by calling parents ignorant across the board. Perhaps the ability to communicate without being offensive to one’s intended audience comes with age? Among the parents of teens I know, there’s a lot of discussion of apps and trends, and sharing of monitoring ideas. They aren’t ignorant of how the internet works.

    Beyond that, though, it’s incredibly unprofessional for a teacher to say, “I am begging you to give a crap about your kids.” Are you kidding? What on Earth gives you the right to assume that we don’t? That’s an awful thing to say to your intended audience of parents who want to know more about monitoring their kids online. Perhaps an outdated, irrelevant old person can give you a few lessons on professional communication.

  20. You’re too late if you’re worrying about it when they’re a teen. You have to get on the internet with your kids when they can just barely read. There’s always one precocious kid in 1st grade that mistypes six and proceeds to share the pictures he finds with all his friends at his house. Set up accounts with strict hours that you can actively monitor from another room before they think they have a right to privacy. There’s nothing more effective then being able to charge in & discuss with your child why there are signs that the person they are speaking to is a predator. It won’t take long for them to find someone you can talk about.

  21. You mention YouNow and the first thing you address is… watching people sleep? Since when is that what it’s for? You could broadcast while you slept, sure, but… why? It’s a given that it’s creepy when strangers watch you sleep, but why would you open the app, go live and go to bed with the camera pointed at yourself? Not only is that creepy, it’s pointless, so why would anyone do that? There probably are people who do, but that is not what it is for or for what people use it for. My friend Kayce Brewer (who I know personally) uses it to connect with her fanbase as a singer. She uses it to make people happy. Also, the stream is NOT constant as your article implicitly states. Broadcasts are as long as one wishes. I went through and skimmed this article again and you read like a satirist mocking extreme mothers.

  22. I’m not a parent. I tell people that just because I’m not a parent doesn’t make it ok for you to be less of a parent. I shut that crap down right away. You’re qualified to speak up. I realize that no one is perfect. Parents need help. Ask for help if you need it.

  23. Ok I am saying this as a previous rebellious teenager from not so long ago, and a new mother freaking out about the future of our new child. Parents should be very very worried. Talking to strangers online and lude photos are the least of your concerns. Those personal chats with God-knows-who, those pictures to “prove you are who you are “.. They are just tools. They lead to meeting up with said stranger , possibly in your own house when you are gone? Or worse, their house, where they know every now and cranny and your child doesn’t. The pics can make sure that their target is 1) right for their “needs” and 2) make sure you know who you are targeting and minimalize the mistake of grabbing the wrong child.

    My mom, God love her, tried very hard to deal with a world she knew little to nothing about. But she was a quick study- unfortunately her quick study wasn’t near quick enough. I was faster. She tried the “open and trusting” parenting- she is my best friend after all, and she also tried the tough love parenting after the previous failed. I had numorous times where I made it soo very easy for someone to do what ever they wanted to me. My “friends” that were with me were 0 help and helped get me in those situations. I have met strangers online. Most were older than what they said they were. A few were even pedofiles, drug dealers, you name it. This didn’t happen just one time…. It happened time and time again. One scary experience was not enough to learn to be more careful. I got in many cars with strangers. I left town with many strangers. I was stranded in a strange place I didn’t know and a place where I didn’t need to be over and over. My mom loved me very much. She tried being my friend. When that failed- she became a parent. She tried to warn me nicely. When it didn’t work I was kicked out of our home many times. I had no where to go. But she made sure the message finally sunk in. Those people could have hurt me, killed me, raped me, drugged me. And I thought I was a big bad fighter, but I didn’t put up any fight at all. I made it so easy for them to do what they wanted. When my mom kicked me out, she not only left me without shelter- she left me without a smart phone. She left me without a computer. She left me without Internet access, webcams, chat rooms, anything. She did what she did because she loved me and she knew I would probably be safer somewhere where (I was watched by cops) I didn’t have internet, or any of the things that was the tools creeps use to meet up with children, overpower them, and do what they want. Rape, injure, kidnap, sell, dope up, kill.

    So yes watch your children. Be their friend that they can tell anything to. But that isn’t enough. Know your kids have the potential to be incredibly stupid, and the potential to live in the moment without a single thought to the future or dangers, they will act on hormones and what “they feel” rather than think it through. It is a scary world out there. It’s a wonder I am 1) still alive, 2) virtually untouched except by my husband,3) not in jail!

    My story may not mean much to some of you. But it means a lot to me. I know my kid will make the same mistakes I did. But I am going to do everything in my power to make her safe. Hindsight has helped me see where I was wrong and what to look for when my child gets older. I will be my mother. I will be a friend only when being a parent is not needed. That is what I am going to try with my child.

    Thank you for this post

  24. And maybe… Teenagers just shouldn’t have access to these accounts period. I know I will shunned but I’m taking a VERY strict stance to my kids internet access. It’s a want, not a need. And it’s extremely dangerous.

  25. I see so many parents ignoring their children. So sad!!! EVERYONE is far too busy with their face in their OWN phones, texting or gaming or whatever, both parents & kids! Please give your kids your precious time & UNdivided attention! Make it a point to have a family meal together, as often as possible & just take 40 min to an hour & please share your day with them & listen to them about theirs too. Parents allow TOO many activities going on & then with multiple kids, you have multiple & nonstop activities going. Life is just too short, your children grow up so fast, slow down & cut back & limit their extra activities. Take time & BE a family! So many times my husband go to dinner & watch couples who NEVER exchange ONE word, their entire meal consists of both faces in their own phone! Such a shame, neither of them understand or realize how much their relationship is missing. Kids NEED their parents, confiscate their phones for just a few minutes & share a meal & talk to each other & listen to each others day & what took place & what is coming up. People, we need to RECONNECT with each other before everyone looses the ability & knowledge on how to do so. You make the choice to have children, that is a lifetime commitment of parenting. Children want & need attention, they may tell you different, but, they require it or they will turn elsewhere to get whatever comes their way…good or bad! Two family members showed up for Christmas this past year, their faces buried in their phones (41 yrs old & 20 yr old). I confiscated their phones immediately, told them to lay them down on the table & they could pick them up on their way out the door, it is Christmas & is a family day. Amazingly, (only after some guff over it) they had a wonderful time & we had a good family day. Bottom line is, if you are the parent, it is up to YOU to make & enforce rules. It just breaks my heart to watch families at dinner & they ignore each other, too busy with their faces in their phones. Stop & smell the roses in life.

  26. Mindful parenting…. thank you for your insightful reflections. I’m a mom of 2 adolescents who are just recently immersed in social media.

  27. This post is the same as the parents it describes – well-intentioned but ignorant. Taking control of every digital aspect of a child’s life will stifle and frustrate the sense of independence struggling to develop throughout adolescence.

    It is not productive for an adult to simply monitor a child’s every decision; it teaches fear of punishment, resentment of authority for the restriction of freedom, and damages the crucial element of trust that MUST exist between child and parent.

    That trust is a two-way street. In order for kids to grow up and learn to make their own responsible decisions, they need to be given the freedom to actually make those decisions. Period. Rather than hold (and force) your kid’s hand throughout their entire social media identity as this post implies, encourage an open dialogue between you as the parent and your child. They’re smarter than you think, even with the bubbling hormonal stew of adolescence at work- let them use those smarts to bring possible problems to you.

    If you make them feel trusted, they will let you in on their lives–freely–rather than having to force or spy your way in.

  28. I work in Information Technologies all day and I can tell you that this is 100% true, in fact is more dangerous than what is described. I can teel you friends that if you don’t be careful your little girl or boy will be dating a stranger in less than a week and for sure you don’t even know that happened. Just talk with them explain them about the danger of talking with strangers, like our parents did when we were Kids and be very close to them. Forbiding things will only make them look for other options or sites.
    Teenagers is wonderfull stage of our lives we just need to help them survive it. Be safe.

  29. What a great article! I’m looking for suggestions: I am working with a couple of 8th grade girl scouts on a badge relating to internet use. What can I do to discuss internet safety in a way that is different and perhaps more ‘meaningful’ to them than what they get in school? They’ve heard it all and can say all the right things back, but they’re teenagers, so they think they’re invincible. Any ideas?

    1. That’s a tough one, because I know that at that age, I didn’t want to listen to anything an adult had to say. You don’t want to resort to scare tactics, like inundating them with articles about the dangers, but maybe one or two examples? Maybe even a little experiment… Like setting up a false account and seeing what kind of people will find and connect with it? I’m not even going to pretend to have the answers, but those are some things that might work. Ultimately, patience and vigilance are the only sure-fire tactics.

  30. This article is a great start and I love that so many parents care enough to be aware of what their children are doing. I have to add my comments about what I do with my children when we meet about social media. I am not saying it is the best way to do things, just sharing my experience. I have a college student and 3 additional teenagers. When I found out two of them were looking at porn and were deleting the apps before I could see they had downloaded the apps, I met with them each separately. I told them I love them. I told them they are loved no matter what they do. I asked if they would like help. Both of them said yes. I asked them what they would like me to do to help them. They came up with the boundaries. They decided they wanted to give up their iPad and free access to the internet. I told them I would help them as much as possible. I have. They are still dealing with the effects of the pornography, but they are trying hard to replace those images with things that are uplifting. I check in with them. I remind them of my love. I tell them how proud I am of the choices they are making. I hope this helps someone out there.

  31. brilliant piece. Thanks for sharing. As a pediatrician in training at a children’s hospital, I see way too often what the combination of impulsive behavior and insecurity can do to young people. Having loving, involved, and cognizant parents and responsible adults in their life is a huge piece of protecting them from themselves.

  32. Bravo! Bravo! So glad parents are getting wise and sooooo glad I didn’t gift that iPad Mini she so badly wanted. It didn’t feel right. I want her to have it, but it isn’t a safe choice. No internet access anywhere but school or in my kitchen! I still don’t feel like I can keep her safe. Yesterday was the anniversary of Amber from the Amber alert. I never knew that story. Once you read that, you will keep a closer eye on your beautiful children. Thank you Kayla! You are so brave and so RIGHT!

  33. I live in the Dallas area and we’ve had a recent incident similar to this. Two 13 year old girls were picked up by a stranger over a social media app called Skout and taken about 150 miles away and held captive in his home, and raped and so forth.

    They willingly ran away with him because he promised to take them to Six Flags. It was a big thing in the news here, is definitely a good sign of being careful with teens and their social media use, I think.

  34. “Folks, stranger danger is a real thing. And even more real today than it was ten years ago”

    This is simply false. The world is MUCH safer than it has ever been, especially in the USA.

    It’s one thing to preach safe practices. It’s entirely another to try to get clicks through fear mongering.

  35. I liked your article, but I disagree with one thing. All of my kid’s friends have Facebook. Every single one of them. They have everything else too, but Facebook is a big deal in these parts. In fact, most have multiple pages, one their parents know about and a couple that they don’t.

    I check my kids phones and computers everyday. They are allowed zero privacy when it comes to their devices – which was the agreement they made before receiving one. I check messages and verify who their friends are. I’m positive I still don’t catch everything, but I work hard to do what I can from my end.

    We also have real conversations about the dangers of sharing information, sexting, sending nude photos and more. When my daughter and her boyfriend sent, erm, inappropriate pics of themselves to each other, I had a police friend visit them both and tell them that they would be arrested for distributing child porn if they did it again. Scared the garbage out of both of them, but kids in my state are being arrested and convicted for this (gotta set an example).

    Anyway, my point is don’t assume that just because one area is seeing less Facebook use that this is happening everywhere. And, as a parent, don’t value your child’s privacy more than you do their life, it could end in disaster.

  36. Thank you for the article it was very insightful. It would be more appealing to read if the title stated uneducated Internet parents not ignorant. Just seems judgemental and arrogant of the author. Otherwise I appreciate the education on all these apps because I am 42 y.o mother of 4 girls and 2 businesses ran by my husband and I. It makes it difficult to research all the new continuing dangers lurking on my girls electronic devices.

  37. Did you really just call it “A Facebook”? Kind of ruins your credibility since literally no one that understand the internet says “I have a Facebook”, especially teenagers. Unless you were saying it ironically, but if so you didn’t make that clear.

  38. You know, my very first thought upon reading this was that, yes, stranger danger is real, but as a parent, I am more concerned with “acquaintance” danger, which is much more likely to claim lives. Kids are lured in by people they recognize or even know a little bit, and that implicit but essentially unearned trust that isn’t there with strnagers gets them in trouble. My very second thought was… the sheer arrogance of people thinking someone wants to watch them 24/7. Sadly, apparently there are people like that. In all seriousness though, my child is still young but I fear for the time she gets older and exposed to more things like this. I only hope that we will have had enough heart to hearts by then that she isn’t seduced by the internet or any of the creepers on it! Thanks for caring about our kids!

  39. Thank you! I need these reminders. I enjoy fb and am very picky about what’s on my account. My kids read it over my shoulder. They ask who so and so is and I tell them. I set an example by keeping my business open — that’s what I expect from them. My kids are still pretty young, but it won’t be long before they’re teenagers. For now I homeschool. We meet often with other homeschooled kids and I know the other kids parents, siblings, grandparents, what they allow their children to see/watch on tv and also the internet. I know which kids have their own phone/internet at their fingertips. I know what these other parents say to their kids about internet safety. Sometimes I wonder if it’s enough… For now, my kids don’t have access to the internet without me or another parent with them. ALL of my electronics have passwords. I talk to my kids about internet safety as we go, as it comes up. It’s no secret that my pass codes are set to safeguard them from those who can harm them. Yes, I probably make them paranoid about the dangers online, but, I feel they should be warned, and warned again and again (without overkill). Sometimes they tell me about their friend who has an electronic device of their own. They ask when they will get their own ____. I tell them they won’t have their own _____ until they show self-control, can pay the bill, etc. I enjoy their innocence. Their clean laughter. Their happiness. It will change all too soon. One day I won’t be there. I know it. I know I can’t protect them from everything. For now I will try and I will do my best to prepare them for that time. It is my job to protect them, I am their parent! And so I do my best. And, when I do walk away while they are on the internet playing a game I set them up on, I still get a nagging feeling. What if they get curious while I’m not there, how far will they venture? What about those times I take my device into my room and set an example that is not okay for them to follow…. Still, I will do what I can — but, I realize I can only do so much, so I prepare them the best I can for when they do have their own access. When I come across something I don’t want and they are with me, I share my discust. I say, “Oh, I didn’t need to see that! or, “That is not appropriate!”, etc. Still, sometimes I’m told that I should allow them to learn how to navigate the internet on their own at home. But, I wonder, “Learn what? What porn is? Put it in their hands and see what happens? Hope they then come and talk to me about it AFTERWARDS?” NO! I don’t think so. I can do better than that! I AM the parent! Thank you again for telling me to be one, because sometimes I question my parenting.

  40. It should be noted that statistically, children are much more likely to victimized by someone THEY KNOW. It’s not all about stranger danger. In fact 93% of victims know their attacker…34% are family members. 58% are aquaintances like coaches, teachers, counselors, volunteers, neighbors or clergymen ect. Only 7% are true stranger attacks. Victims are far less willing to speak out against those they know who aren’t considered “strangers” and the perps know that. So I think the ignorance lies more in the OP….anyone can be victimizing our children, not just strangers. The people who are most likely looking to prey on your kids are probably approved by parents and are on friends lists already.

  41. I’m a grandma now but I was very involved and active in my kids life and they still managed to get into ‘it’.

    Thank you, I learned somethings today!

    I would add to your final statement: or someone else WILL and you may not like it.

  42. The recommendation of this article to “show up” and “give a crap” are to be balanced with the behaviour of hypervigilant helicopter parents who are constantly questioning their kids and backing them into a corner until their feel they have to lie their way through life. Their smart kids will inevitably find ever more inventive ways to ” go underground” or get some semblance of “privacy” that so many teenagers need to experience life for themselves. Those parental actions are just as harmful as “ignorance”.

    My point is that as parents, I feel that it’s important take the time to know your kids, build a relationship of trust. I think that’s the only way that will get you through the tough teenage years. The other way is to reflect on your behaviour as a parent and really evaluate what’s worked and what hasn’t with your kids and keeping in mind that your kids are also different individuals. There is no one size fits all.

    My opinion has really come from having been a teenager. So I really can’t talk. I have toddlers right now, so all of this is hypothetical. I would put it out there for experienced parents to comment on what’s worked and what hasn’t and learn from them.

  43. Thank you so much for sharing your insights for us Parents who have never been teen within the Cyber era!! It is very scary as a parent to think about all the things that could influence our teens on the internet that could harm them for the rest of their lives!! Thank you I will be sharing this on my F/B page to help aid other Parents like myself!!

  44. I absolutely do check up on my kids device and everything that’s on it! But I don’t tell him I’m doing it! If I’m ever going to find out something I need to know if I give him a heads up before the fact! And I’ve taken away his privileges altogether(bie bie tablet&wifi PRIVILEGES!!!) if I have a problem with the way he handles himself online or off! You kinda need to do it(the check up) when they least expect it& are completely oblivious to the fact! If you really want to know what’s up!! They think I over react to things that aren’t going to happen and constantly say that I worry too much! But I know 1st hand how crappy this world is! So I like to go in and control his settings and have a look around every chance I get! To make sure he’s not doing anything too silly! Thankfully he’s more into sports(&new to Air Cadets), so I haven’t caught him doing anything too silly! *fingers crossed*

    Thanks for the article! Interesting reads& there actually was a couple of sights I didn’t know about!! Thanks for sharing!!

  45. Kayla-

    My name’s Alex, I’m 25-year old high school teacher and I just wanted to tell you that:
    1.) My experience with teaching teenagers, regarding the camaraderie that stems from being a younger teacher, has literally the same. While difficult at times, I often have a much easier time relating to my students than my parents or older colleagues.
    2.) Your point about parent ignorance is spot on. They are oftentimes well-meaning and try very hard to be involved in their children’s lives, but unless they are hawkish about tracking their kid’s internet activity (to be fair, who has time for that?) then the curious and hormonal teenager will always find a dark hole of the internet to crawl into. You did it, I did it, practically everyone our age was involved in social media in some way. Oh my gosh, do you remember Xanga?

    Anyway, I have supreme appreciation for this post. Keep up the good work of teaching and being a reflective practitioner!

  46. Thank you so much for writing this!! I have a 14 year old daughter who thinks she knows everything and that scares me.. I can’t seem to get it through her head that what she says and does could end up being taken wrong by other people and she needs to watch what she does, posts, says, etc… Lease keep blogging your insights are truly helpful especially to me.

    God Bless You

  47. I’m thinking this is a repeat of many articles I’ve read (and one I’ve written) and I agree with the person below, who’s concern was there was zero advice. If there’s no helpful info or solution, seems like a missed opportunity.
    I don’t believe being young enough to be the child of a students parent makes your judgement any more hip than said parent.
    Fact is these apps exist. It is the new sneaking out (which even a well adjusted child with wide awake parents can subject themselves to).
    I believe under informed kids will use the app and find themselves in trouble. Kids that know what they are getting into (sexting and all previously named apps) are doing it because they enjoy that kind of danger.
    The thing, and quite possibly the only thing, to do is to make sure your kids have apps that you feel they can handle. There are many apps you can get as a parent to help monitor, if you want to use fire for fire, you can also look at the damn thing and see what they have. Although there are ways to disguise an app to look like something else. I guess if your 17 yr old bad boy son has a Dora App you should probably investigate.
    Truth is our kids are actually using less drugs now than ever. That’s a fact. That doesn’t mean all of these social media dangers aren’t real- they are.
    But scare media and no solution hype is the last thing a parent of a teen needs, shedding some light on social media dangers is always a plus but as the parent of 3 (one teen) if you have your head in the sand- that’s probably where it will stay. If you don’t, you are probably doing a pretty damn good job.

  48. Thank you for your insight, which does make you an expert (you are in the trenches with kids)

    Some of our teams are not fully aware that they are building a “social media” footprint that they will carry for a long time.

    Thank you once again.

  49. Thank you for taking the time to share this. I wonder how their social media foot print will affect them in the future when they look for a job and are they aware that it’s taken into consideration as part of the hiring process?

  50. Excellent information and very well written. I will be saving this blog post so that I can reference it when my almost 9yo is a teen. I have only heard of about half of these sites. Scary. Thank you for writing this post.

  51. I don’t have time to read all the comments so perhaps this sentiment has already been expressed, but I fail to see the need for teenagers to have their own unlimited access to a smartphone/tablet/computer! My kids are still too little for this, and there will likely be new technology out by the time they are teens, but if I were parenting a teenager right now they sure as heck wouldn’t have an iPhone. A basic cell phone that makes calls and receives texts and that’s it would be plenty sufficient and given only once they start driving places on their own. Tablets and computers belong to the family, not the individual, and are kept in a public places in the house and all social media heavily monitored. I’m not saying something couldn’t still slip through the cracks but it seems like manh parents are way too concerned with their teens privacy at the expense of their safety. My parents were like your mom and knew every move I made on the Internet and that was one of the smartest things they did! Thanks for writing this!

  52. Great post! I completely agree with everything you said. Our daughter has Instagram, and only my husband and I know her password and we monitor her and her phone daily. It blows my mind to know that so many of her friends have KIK and Snapchat.

    1. Be careful of instagram. My daughter became “friends” with someone and she gave her number to him and he turned out to be a old man. And yes I watched her phone and had her password. And talked about the dangers over and over. Kids do not know boundaries. They will do things in the moment and not think. Don’t give them the chance to really hurt themselves. My daughter is not allowed a phone until she is old enough to buy her own .

  53. Why do you spread fear? Child abductions have gone down and the trend is still going down. Also, children abducted by strangers are the smallest segment. Most abducted children are taken by family members, but that would go against your scary narrative you use in order to get more eyes on your blog. Instead of fearmongering, why don’t you do some real research and come up with real answers?

    Only a tiny minority of kidnapped children are taken by strangers. Between 1990 and 1995 the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children handled only 515 stranger abductions, 3.1 percent of its caseload. A 2000 report by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Programs reported that more than 3/4 of kidnappings were committed by family members or acquaintances of the child. The study also found that children abducted by strangers were harmed less frequently than those taken by acquaintances.

    1. My daughter raised in a great home spoke to and sent naked pictures of herself to whom she believed was a young boy because of all the hormones she had and didn’t know how to control. Being insecure and felt like she had to act older. She is not spreading fear. She is speaking the truth. I had no idea about KIK app. Pre-teens and teens do not know their limits. They go on emotions and hormones. So don’t be stupid and think it’s safer out there. My daughter was 11 and we found out these so called “boys” were old men. Trust me you never want to go through what me and my family went through.

  54. Would love any tips to follow, monitor my child’s internet safety.
    I dare not forward your blog in case she sees the other apps that are out there… So far I know she uses Instagram and Facebook- though rarely for that one.
    I will however open up a conversation _today_ about this.
    Thank you Thank you.!

  55. I went on a 5th grade field trip with my daughter and I was shocked at the conversation and music these kids had on all their devices. The raunchiest stuff that I am sure their parents don’t know about. On our way back one child was crying because a boy had uploaded some things on her Instagram account. What the heck are you guys doing with an Instagram account. I had ANOTHER conversation with my 11 year old as to why they will not get a cell-phone until high-school. It won’t necessarily be much better but jeez these kids have no idea what they are doing when they click “UPLOAD”

  56. I won’t buy my kids smartphones. They can have old school phones until they graduate high school. We also don’t allow tvs, phones or tablets in the bedrooms. We have a nice touch screen desktop all in one in the dining room they can use where we can keep an eye on them. O well if they don’t like it.

    1. yes! My kids are too young for phones still, but this is my plan as well. We plan to lead by example and don’t even have a TV in our bedroom, and we don’t have all the latest screens and don’t walk around with our face in them all day. I wish more people would do this. I also plan to give them ‘dumb’ phones and get them involved in REAL life so they’re too busy doing good things to have time to be ‘bored’.

  57. I am suspicious of any adult who says she spends more time with teenagers than other adults or people her age, or claims she knows them better than we know them, or that she feels more “camaraderie” with them than her own peer group.

    Given how much abuse goes on schools these days between teachers and students and declining performance of both students do teachers, maybe our kids need more adults in thier lives than these “teachers” who want to be everyone’s friend and not an adult.

    1. I agree I feel that some of my teachers spend so much time trying to be the cool teacher and be the fun teacher that they forget to teach. If I wanted to be talking with a friend I wouldn’t have shown up to your class.

    2. Well, by default, if your job is teaching adolescents, then most of your waking hours are going to be spent with…adolescents. I don’t think she was trying to imply that she prefers the company of teenagers during her free hours, merely that being with them is a requirement of her job. And it’s pretty clear that she’s not trying to be the cool teacher because she’s encouraging parents to be a lot nosier when it comes to their children’s social media and Internet use. Her point in emphasizing her youth seemed to be merely an illustration that she is can’t at this from the perspective of a younger, more plugged in generation rather than an older person wishing for the good old days…and yet she still sees the need for more careful monitoring.

  58. How do you, who have pre teen or teen boys AND girls? Do you run into issues with the obvious fact that we must protect our girls to a higher degree than we do for boys? I would say that for pre teen, the dangers are about equal and there is less of a parental obligation difference. But for parents of teenage boys, it’s disturbing to see some parents encourage or ignore the fact that their son, while not in as much danger himself (but still could be in danger of pedophiles) , left not monitored, could be causing the exact dangers that we fear our teen daughters may face on line. I have friends who’s kids get upset because the parents must limit the daughters exposure on line to a higher degree than their sons.
    This is especially true for school age girls who can be tricked into uploading photos of themselves by same age boys, and then those boys sharing with his friends and eventually uploaded to adult websites where pedophiles lurk.

  59. Thank you so much for this article. It’s spot on! Any parent who has a problem with this is not only ignorant but irresponsible because parenting in this age requires your antennas to tuned correctly. There are millions of wicked people out there on the internet who want to destroy and possibly kill our kids. Independence requires adequate responsibility and parents need a sixth sense and extra eyes to watch and guard their kids. The world we live in now is full of evil so we can’t fall asleep and let this evil consume our kids. Wise up parents! This article is another good one, a real wake up call.

  60. OK, so I’m in an odd age range when it comes to Internet, social media and parenting. I have an 11 year old daughter (she has ipad) and I remember as a 4th grader was when I started getting on line.. back then it was mostly AOL instant messaging.. But the chat rooms were where the action was. It really wasn’t until 5th grade that the chat room use became boys trying to chase/trick girls into doing what boys have been doing for ages, “that being promiscuous (even just virtually) was what boys liked” (even though of course boys would even at that age already know that the girls who complied were the ones that were objects where the ones that did not fall for this the ones we naturally knew were the crush types.. Kind of how it is with adults where men value purity at the top tier but lie and encourage the other behavior as being “attractive.

  61. I whole heartedly agree. I’ve been teaching kids 14-18 in the Bay Area (CA) for fifteen years. The number one recommendation on my list or any of my immediate colleagues— parents, be involved in your kids life! You had them, now enjoy their presence….

  62. Hi. As a mom of two pre-teen daughters, I found your article very enlightening and interesting. Thank you for posting it. So, my question is now, now what? Should I take away the internet/i-pod stuff? Some families we know don’t allow anything for their kids other than what is required for school. Or maybe I should only allow my girls to have internet use when I can watch – which would be never. We have one friend who went this route, don’t know how it is going. No idea how that would work at my house, as I never sit still long enough to do that. I am not being smart alecky (that is a word, right?) Lots of parents I know give their kids free rein with technology and some how that doesn’t seem right either. I really do want some suggestions here. Please help if you can. Thanks again.

  63. Thank you for your article regarding the internet for especially high schoolers. You did good posting it. I for one will send it on. I am thankful that my son of my 1st born Granddaughter, IS very tech savvy and thankfully too, his beautiful daughter knows it! God Bless – keep writing!

  64. Great article and great comments! I’m a mom, a psychologist in private practice for 20 years, and adjunct faculty at CSUCI. I am also creator of I know first-hand what families are actually dealing with and too ashamed to talk about. There is no simple solution, but rather a set of strategies is necessary to help parents keep their kids internet safe. Even with an awesome arsenal of tools (like those suggested by GKIS), the MOST IMPORTANT factor is a cooperative loving relationship with your kids. Be the person they come to and don’t be afraid to be the person who manages them assertively. I could tell you some real-life stories that is not scare propaganda – real life everyday happenings that could just as easily be under your roof. Time for a GetKidsInternetSafe revolution!

  65. This will be a wake-up call for many families. Also, FYI, what you share with your students is camaraderie. Your blog and the version on For Moms Only have other spellings.

  66. Thank you Kayla for such a heart felt explanatory article. I have 3 teenage daughters and my youngest is the most adventurous on the internet, we have done our best to monitor and be involved but I still did not recognize many of the apps or sites you mentioned. It reaffirms that I must stay aware.

  67. Thanks so much for this–a friend of mine shared it on Facebook, and I think you got your point across very well! No matter how savvy we parents might think we are, there is always another app ready to launch. It’s amazing and scary and something that demands an ongoing dialogue with our kids.

  68. Kayla Nicole, thank you for your important message. I am a 53 year old mom of two twenty-somethings and I’m also a career elementary school teacher. I could be one of your parent-aged colleagues. I am no expert, but I have lots of experience. The most important thing that you said in your blog…”if you don’t show up in your kid’s life and give a crap, maybe no one will.” We can’t monitor every device and app our kids are using. We can control the age at which our children have access to them. (I have taught third graders who have smart phones. Third graders need parents, not phones.) Parents need to be a daily presence in the lives of their children. Not as stalkers. Not as decision-makers. Not as schedulers. We need to model from a very young age how to have real, live, face-to-face relationships with the important people in our lives. We need to put our own devices down and have conversations with our kids. We need to listen to our kids. Listen. Love them. Cheer them on. Talk less, listen more. Be there. Show up and make sure your kids know you give a crap.

  69. Reading through these comments has been an interesting experience (with the exception of those commenters who remarked on minor grammar mistakes rather than content–is there anything more boring than reading condescending grammar criticism?). It does occur to me that in the comments there’s a lot of blurring of the child-teen line, and I can see why. At the same time, though, I think it’s important to take stock of your monitoring periodically and update it to suit your child’s development. The FBI saying that every person your child interacts with online should be somebody they know personally is a very smart idea for a child or a young teen. However, I’ve noticed that many teens on Tumblr (just for example, since thats where I have experience) are specifically looking to get away from the people they know IRL–to stretch their legs in an area their friends at school might think is childish or geeky or dumb. Genuine friendships can form when you find somebody who’s as passionate about a book or tv show or band as you are, and that’s a connection some kids need (and one their parents probably can’t provide them). A previous poster mentioned that the internet is particularly useful in connecting LGBTQIA teens with people in similar situations. I think these relationships can be valuable, and that it’s not helping your child if you tell them no, never, you’re stuck with the people you already know in this place that might well feel too small for you. What sort of growth does that encourage? Should the rules you put in place for your tween be the same rules your 16/17-year-old follows?

    That’s not to say that parents shouldn’t monitor. My mom knew my passwords for everything and although I got a laptop when I was 14, it “lived” in the kitchen ONLY, so I’d be around the family even when I was using it. I never particularly felt like my mom was checking up on me, although she did. She didn’t make it seem like a power play. It probably helped that we’ve always been close, but it was also that she was genuinely interested in my life and wasn’t just trying to catch me in something.

    I think an important thing to remember when you’re checking up on your child is that it’ll be more helpful to them if you resist knee-jerk reactions to the content they view. I wouldn’t let my mother talk to me about sex, and I had no friends who were comfortable talking about that sort of thing, so I ended up learning a lot through R-rated fan fiction and the website scarleteen. It was a little embarrassing when my mom mentioned offhand a year or so ago that she used to read along after me–she’d felt awkward about it, but decided that I was self-teaching in a way she could support. Still, she wanted to be aware if something came up that she should address (objectification, rape, the idea of consent) so she kept tabs, and occasionally stepped in and offered more information about something or steered me to other sources or just said no. I’m grateful that she didn’t just shut the whole operation down, and I’m equally grateful that she kept a close eye on me and knew when I needed her guidance. But you know, for all that…I’m not sure how well she would’ve handled today’s dizzying variety of apps and options to share anonymously without consequence.

    I work in a high school, and some of my coworkers (who are very aware of teen social media use) have drawn up contracts with their own children regarding cell phone/tablet/internet/social media, which they keep in a public place so that the rules stay at the forefront of everyone’s minds. I like the ceremony and the transparency of that, but ultimately, it’s just a trapping–it seems to work best in homes where the parents are genuinely caring, concerned, and interested in their children, and doesn’t work when parents are just sticking the page on the fridge because it’s the Thing to Do. Which is pretty much how things always are, isn’t it?

  70. From a fellow teacher of teenagers (with no kids of her own), I want to say a big thank you for posting this! I’m sharing…

  71. Very interesting post from a young teacher.

    Great perspective and heartfelt.

    What’s even MORE fascinating are these comments.

    Do we Trust but Verify?

    Do we Block & Filter?

    IS Life Filtered?

    OR d o we teach ethics and keep an open line of communication with our kiddos about making the right choices both online and IRL?

    IN REAL LIFE? See? Online IS real life. Even whilst gaming! I truly think that the kids most at risk for getting into trouble online are kiddos who are already “at rick” and are exhibiting troubling behavior. In which case, there are deeper issues.

    “It’s the choices… that we make that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities” – Professor Dumbledore

    THAT is the issue, I think. Great post! If you’re on Twitter, I’d follow ya!

    God bless,
    @GwynethJones – The Daring Librarian

  72. I have mixed feelings about this – having been a LGBTQ teen just before the birth of the WWW, being able to talk to other queer people online changed my life…I didn’t know anyone like that, no-one around me was out, I didn’t fit what I saw in the media.

    I know LGBTQ teens nowadays quite often the only lifeline is their phone, their friends online, they can’t talk to their parents, or aren’t out yet…or they just won’t understand.

    Rules are needed – although ironically there wasn’t any for me apart from the phone bill…and some trust. But I’m concerned that by monitoring teens all the time, not only do you destroy trust, you might actually stop them from growing or finding out who they are.

    Not everyone is a paedophile, and sometimes it is easier to talk to complete strangers about sexuality before you come out than your parents – that may hurt, but it’s less dangerous than being thrown out the house onto the street. I wasn’t out when I was connecting to people online – kind of dangerous, but I was older (20’s)…but still, if I was being watched I’d probably be still closeted and deeply unhappy, or not here at all as it was eating me alive keeping that secret. Take your pick – I note that Leelah Alcorn’s parents took her phones and computers away, completely isolated her. So she stepped in front of a truck. She was 17. Be careful with your rules.

    I think to also keep your kids safe you also have to be open to what you find, otherwise to come down on something you don’t understand, something that isn’t ‘wrong’ but different to how you live or hope they might grow up – you will just push them away.

    My mother was good at doing the former, and she died alone with none of her children talking to her…she thought she owned all of her children and could control them. We all disagreed. Don’t be that type of parent, please?

  73. Hi. I enjoyed your post here very much. As in, I agree that the world of internet and all it’s affiliates is scary and we need to watch our kids. I can’t even imagine all the sites that I don’t know about. My kids are now grown but I have little Granddaughters who are growing up in this new world of communication. Everything has changed. We don’t even know how much or how scary. I want to thank you for warning parents.

  74. Great article. My kids are only 8 but already know how to use the phone, ask google for answers & Skype with their aunt. It’s crazy to think there is so much out there for kids to access & so many creepy people to follow them. Safety first.

  75. Oh my THANK YOU!! I am not a ‘young’ parent, and I feel so overwhelmingly ill-equipped to deal responsibly with the coming collision of my children and social media!! In this case, your age gives you the perfect platform on which to knowledgeably inform parents and parents DESPERATELY need to hear your voice!!!! I really appreciated reading this, and appreciate your obvious concern for these vulnerable people!!

  76. Unrelated to the blog topic, which is important, but it pains me to see a high school English teacher misspell camaraderie.

  77. my kids just don’t have smart phones – and they are fine without them – one came home from a school field trip to a conference and remarked that he didn’t realize how many kids were hooked on their phones

  78. I LOVE this article. I was raised by a mother who followed a lot of these rules. She had passwords to EVERY account I ever made, she knew about EVERY account I ever made (including things like snapchat, kik, etc, etc) and she monitored them closely. Every day, actually. And if she thought I was out of line, she stepped in, big time. It used to drive me crazy, but now that I’m a little older and a little removed from the situation I understand that I WAS out of line, I WAS acting dangerously, acting thoughtlessly. She took care of me, no matter how angry it made me, or how many names I called her, and as a result I’m a well adjusted, safe, thoughtful, adult. I owe 100% of that to my mom and her rules.

  79. I think there is a lot of good information here. I had a total freak out last week when I found out my son had a Twitter account. We have set rules about social media. We talk a ton about safety and privacy settings… blah, blah, blah. My two teens are NOT supposed to have an account that I am unaware of. I am to help them set it up, make sure privacy settings are in place and then be allowed to follow them. I took his phone and he and I went through every SINGLE app on the phone, all his pictures etc. Honestly, I didn’t find anything that upset me besides the presence of the Twitter account that I didn’t know about.

    We restated the rules… including that I have spot check access and the password to all phones, tablets, computers etc. all the time. I don’t invoke that right often because I know what it felt like to be a teen. I know how paramount privacy was to me as a teen. So, I tell them that privacy is a privilege they earn. He has one violation.

    Anyway, I’m not sure why I’m going into all this except to say that yes 1. rules need to be made and discussed and the teen need to know WHY the rules are there, (aka dangers), 2. There needs to be a balance in your monitoring and their privacy and this is determined on a kid by kid basis 3. And yes, there was at least one social media platform I was unaware of disclosed in this article.

    When I found it, I looked at my son and said, “Hey, have you heard of this?” He said he hadn’t. And we talked about it a little. So, thank you, you opened up a conversation and exchange that needed to be had.

    However, what I don’t like about this article, is that I am picking up a tone here that I feel is unnecessary. I’m super exhausted with this teacher vs. parent thing that goes on. There are a crap ton of parents who do care and are trying their best. There are a crap ton of parents who have the teacher’s backs. And there are a crap ton of parents who know that they don’t know A LOT!! There is so much to know. Every time you turn around there is something new and scary out there. I feel daily like I’m chasing my own tail. But I’m chasing, and I’m not stopping.

    Parenting doesn’t come with a handbook. We are open to learning from you and to the insight you have. Yet, I think your message would have been better received and that I would have chosen to share your article on my website page, had you edited your tone. Instead of calling parents out… and being mildly adversarial, how about giving us a five finger boost? Isn’t that what you would like us to do when you need us to step in and contribute as parents to your classroom or your school? When you approach with respect, people are far more likely to listen to you. As it is, tone, perceived or not, is what keeps me from sharing your valuable insights. I can share them in my own words. And I expect I will. But I will not promote anything, even remotely,that I perceive as borderline parent bashing. This job is HARD. I’d rather give props than knock a parent down & tell them how “ignorant” they are. I feel the same way about teachers. You have my respect. Please address me with yours.

  80. Such a great post almost that I almost didn’t read — so sick of being called ignorant. Maybe try an adjective like naive.

    1. Refer to my comment below yours. I agree. This article could have a lot more power if the approach was one of helping parents out, of having our backs. I am sick to death of people judging each other. I’m pretty sure that most of us are doing the best we can with what we have in our toolbox. I’m also sure that if offered kindness and assistance as opposed to criticism… we would be entirely thankful for anything we could get our hands on and anyone who gave it.

  81. it is really sad to see these things that we live in this world these days. I have been in IT for many years now and I have even seen the evolution of the .com era. I feel I have raised both of my kids to know right from wrong on the Internet. As much as I have taught them through the years, I know that they will never truly be safe. Kids make mistakes, and even adults do the same thing that kids would do. I have a few family members that like to post things on various sites and I am very willing to call them on them if they are inappropriate or in some way dangerous to their lives. I have informed them on worst case scenarios, the things that are wrong that they did, but yet they always ignore the fact and say they know what they are doing. for example, just because you have your Facebook set to where only friends can see what you post, doesn’t mean that they’re friends of friends of friends cannot track and see what you post. Several years ago there was a article about a policeman who was trying to prove this.. he picked at random a Facebook page that showed no information, all of the private information was not allowed to be seen by anyone except who the owner wanted. All that was visible was one single picture of the teenage girl and a name. with that single picture he narrowed down exactly where she lived and it took him one week to finally find her then confront her parents how he found her. As you can see it doesn’t take much for someone to put themselves in harm. I really appreciate you posting this because I am ashamed to say that with every safeguard i have taught, three of those apps that you listed on here I have not heard of myself. But, it goes to show you that no matter how much you know, even you yourself, tomorrow something new will always pop up and put someone’s life at risk. This is the world we live in now, we must accept it or do something about it

  82. Well said! My husband is also a “younger” teacher of junior high kids and we have a couple kids of our own (not old enough for social media, but that day will come). As a “younger” parent who has a Facebook and Instagram account, not EVEN I knew half these websites/apps you mentioned, so thank you for sharing! Great article, can’t wait to read more of your blog!

  83. Great article. The last paragraph spurned a reaction in me tho. As a social psychologist w more than ten years experience as a social worker, I must say, teen suicide, miscreant sex and drug use is a symptom of bad parenting in general. These problems were present in the teen population for much longer than the internet has been around. If a teen is at risk for these issues, I agree social media can provide outlets for that. Bad parenting is bad parenting, period. If the parents are not good parents they most likely won’t care enough to investigate the social media sites thier kids are using. Social media is not the cause but I agree it can exasperate these issues.

  84. I have to admit, I started to read this thinking that I knew it all, that I was the all knowing, completely involved father to my children, and that I’d read it thinking that “I already knew that.” I was wrong. Fantastic article! You informed me with a directness and passion that is lacking far too much in most articles these days. This ex-police officer, and dad to three amazing children, applaud you!

  85. I do think this was great advice but some of the sites users are anonymous so how can I track my kid on those websites?

  86. Thank you so much for sharing this information. I am so concerned about my 13yr old daughter and social media, that it’s driving me nuts! literally!!! You have opened my eyes to so many other social media website that I didn’t even know existed. A million thanks to you. I will also share this information with everyone I know. God bless you for going above and beyond the call of duty to inform parents, other teachers and families about the various social media options our children have access to. This is insane!!!

  87. I’m 24, REALLY tech savy and I have hard keeping up with the apps and services coming out. I see most social media as an inconvenience. It’s not really “social”(pseudo-social is a better term) . I’d rather be with someone and not use an app or service to talk with them. That said, when I can’t talk with them any other way… facebook and skype are nice to have. And as for Internet safety for kids(and frankly adults too)… There are many different ways to control how social media is used. Taking away your kids’ device at night or setting up a time when they can use social media(when you are around to keep an eye on them). Putting filters that block and/or keep track of the sites they visit. Sitting down with them and talking about Internet safety is the best thing to do. Also, schools need to hold classes on internet safety. I keep saying “Internet Safety”… I should explain that. It’s like telling your child “don’t take candy from strangers”…. don’t let them talk to people online that you have never met. of course once they are older some of this judgement will have to come from them. NEVER use snapchat! Crafty snapchat users can keep the photos sent to them without anyone else knowing. To finish up… add(friend) your kids on the social media sites they use. You don’t have to post… just keep an eye on them.

  88. I am glad this message is getting out there, I only take offense to the title ‘ignorant’, of which I am not. I have a teen who is bound and determined to place herself in Internet danger zones. As much as her father and I carefully and thoughtfully spend all our waking hours trying to protect her from these real dangers, she is able to hack her way back into danger. We really need much more than just aware parents. We need safety nets, communities that care, companies who know how to set up Internet protection for families and laws that protect kids put in place. Parents can’t do this alone.

  89. I agree with much of this article. Thanks for voicing out about this and allowing it to generate such open discussion. Too many parents sit back once their kids reach ages as young as 9/10 and think their job is done and stop monitoring what their kids do (as a parent I see it with my children’s classmates all the time). I’m the parent that doesn’t let my daughter have Facebook (much of her class does) nor her own iTunes password as she has to get parental approval for any apps she adds to her digital devices. Thus she isn’t allowed most of the social media apps. We do random checks of her computer as well. It isn’t because we don’t trust her… it is everyone else we are wary of; taking advantage of her innocence. She’s still young and naive enough to easily be misled as she sees the best in everyone, including the faceless masses on the internet. Am I too disciplined? Possibly. Is my child safe on the internet? Definitely. Is she worse for the fact I restrict online access? Nope – just because I am disciplined on her connectivity it doesn’t mean she has no life. Far from it in fact as she leads a hectic social life with her friends face to face and thus far is a happy caring individual.

  90. I could not agree more with this artical. I decided to go though my daughters phone a found she was on Twitter and Kik talking with some boys about stuff I would not talk about. I also found some pretty skimpy pictures ( thank god no naked ones). I believe I forgot to say my daughter is 10. So parents this artical is not only for teenagers. Face it kids are more technologically talented than we will ever be. I go at investigating my children’s devices as if I was hiding something from my parents. I look at history, apps, and just type their name in Google and see what pops up.

  91. I agree 100%!
    I am also 6-10 years older than High-schoolers. My husband and I were youth leaders at or church and we saw more than the parents knew. We had to be the ones tellin parents about questionable behavior or Social media usage.
    I also have 7 younger siblings. They all struggle with blocking parents on facebook, Instagram, etc. It’s disheartening and heart-breaking that parents will not try to learn about their kids and what will hurt them.
    Keep informing people. Hopefully they will listen.

  92. Just got custody of our 15y/o grandson because of neglect & anise from mom. Very concerned about this and guiding him into a confident, caring, intelligent, kind man

  93. I do not have any kids as well, and Im in my late twenties so Im not too far in spectrum of the digital age from the teenagers and pre-teens, but I teach Sunday school to them 4 months out of the year and hold them dearly to my heart. They are 4th and 5th graders and I know some of them are already exposed to apps like instagram and even facebook but with reading articles like this, It frightens me what else they can be exposed to. I know that some of their parents care enough to be watch for what their kids do on the iphones, tablets,computers and all which is good. This article has exposed to me the reality of how fast the current digital age is going. Thank you so much for speaking out

  94. Your parents were incredibly restrictive with your internet activities when you were a teenager and you turned out great. My parents were only mildly restrictive with mine and I turned out great, too. We’re around the same age, so the type/level of risk would have been similar when we were teens.

    I think it’s important that parents known what the dangers are. Otherwise they can’t teach their kids about those dangers. But I don’t agree that monitoring all access is the single correct solution. At some point the kids are going to have complete control over this, either because they’ve moved away from home or they’ve outwitted their parents restrictions. At that point they will need to be able to make the right decisions themselves. They won’t be ready unless they’ve been building up to it.

    Independence was very important to me as a teen. If my parents had been extremely strict it would have hurt our relationship significantly. That would be an acceptable trade-off if they were protecting me from major harm, but that degree of protection wasn’t necessary because they taught me the relevant skills and values that kept me safe online.

    1. I whole-heartedly agree with Christine. There needs to be a balance. I will also add that, even kids like me that grow up in unhealthy environments can turn out good. For me, it was about faith – and still is. My two sons are grown now and although we are far more involved with them than our parents were with us – we value and encourage their independence. Teaching and guidance is far more valuable in the long run than monitoring and restricting (in my opinion). I want to prepare them for their own decisions, not necessarily to believe or follow mine. I also believe in setting examples with our own lives. If we separate ourselves from those that can 1) help us grow in ways we can’t anticipate or 2) help them grow in ways they don’t anticipate – how will we ever learn empathy and/or change for the better. Our culture focuses far more on labels and judging specific characteristics of a person than seeking the heart and accepting those for who they are. If you focus on the higher principles, the daily activities will follow suit.

  95. Very informative article Kayla. Thank you for the heads up. I appreciate your unique insight as a young teacher. Parenting is one of the most difficult jobs there is. Most of us really do give a crap about our kids.

  96. “Medias?” The plural of media is well media. Someone teaching English should be aware of this so I hope it is just a typo

    1. Actually, “media” is the plural of “medium”. “Media” itself is NOT singular. If one were speaking of one specific form or variety of social “media” (plural) one would refer to a social “medium” (singular).

      However, it is rare to speak of social media in the singular, it is usually referred to as the plural object of a prepositional phrase or as a plural subject.

      Consequently, one will almost never see the singular form. This does not change the fact that social “medias” is wrong.

  97. I wish the article had given some constructive ideas or solutions. In my opinion, it’s much bigger than just knowing what your kids are using. It’s teaching them from the day they are born – How to Make Wise Decisions. It’s also getting them involved in fulfilling activities to keep them entertained. It’s also being genuinely involved in (and supportive of) their social lives. By the time they are teenagers it’s very difficult to change their behavior. You can really only hope that what you’ve taught them so far will be running through their head as they make decisions into adulthood. This problem with social media apps is only an extension of behavioral tendencies that already exist inside of them.

  98. I almost started clapping after reading this…in my living room…with my family. 🙂 Your point specifically on the evolving apps was a good reminder for me. Just when I think I’m up on them, they change. You are in the perfect position to relate to these teens, and encourage/admonish parents. Thank you.

  99. Do how do parents check on what their kids are doing online? We have conversations about drinking, drugging, smoking, sex, texting while driving , STDs etc. They still experiment. We talk about Internet safety and this is one thing they can really hide. How do we know?

  100. Way to tell it like it is…and hopefully open some parents eyes. Well written and spot on. Another topic you might consider writing about is sexting. As a school administrator I deal with social media and sexting issues frequently. The new fad is Facetime as phone sex. Parents need to know this too!

  101. You actually could not go on and on about a rise in teen suicide, drug abuse, or sexual activity because every organization that studies these thing shows a decline in all three categories.

    Helicopter parenting may work for some kids, for others it will push rebellion. Focus on who your kid is. Reenforce self confidence, desire for reasonable privacy, good ethics and voila… Your kids will turn out ok. Watching their every move rarely works and generally results in resentment and a very reckless behavior pattern later in life. Remind them the internet is just like the street. If you wouldn’t do it on the road in front of your house don’t do it on the internet. Spend time with your children it creates pride and self respect. Children always make better choices armed with those two tools.

  102. Great article. I wholeheartedly agree BUT how do we, as adults, eat that elephant? What apps are there to watch what the kids are doing? What about the adage, where there’s a will… I am very vigilant with my daughters online activity but I know I don’t know everything. I’ve talked to her until we were both blue in the face. She’s a very good and faithful person but the “powder keg” as you say is still there. Please follow this up with solutions to help us in the dark

  103. Thank you, thank you, thank you. My son just turned 13 and I think I have been very naive. He hasn’t asked for a Facebook or twitter account, so I figured he wasn’t interested in social media yet. Boy am I clueless. I’m going to have a discussion with him and check his laptop again for sites like you mentioned. I needed this. Thank you again.

  104. Thank you so much for this. I know some people in my Facebook feed are taking issue with the statement of ‘give a crap’ and feel it’s condescending to these parents who genuinely do. I get the passion behind it, though.

    This week, our elementary school hosted an FBI agent who works on the child pornography task force. Poor guy. But he had a ton of information to share and was one H*LL of a wake-up call for all of us. Assuming you know everything because you also have the same account as your child is, unfortunately, naïve and inaccurate.

    Here are a few pieces that I got from that evening in the hopes that they help other families…

    His two rules for his own kids:

    1) You may choose ONE social media–either Facebook or Instagram. And we will have the password, our own accounts and will monitor yours.

    2) Absolutely no friends or followers whom you do not actually know in real life. This is reviewed monthly and anyone the kids can’t explain a real-life relationship with is immediately deleted. Oh, and nothing with a camera (phone, tablet, anything) in the bedrooms, ever.

    *Kik is the bane of his existence. The overwhelming majority of issues in the past two years have involved Kik. Don’t delude yourselves: this app is primarily used for sexual themed texts and has a HUGE number of pedophiles using it. Please don’t let your kids use Kik.

    *There are a ton of ‘hide this from my parents’ apps out there. KyCalc, for example, has an icon that looks like a calculator. There are all sorts of options for this, particularly on iPhones, and this landscape changes continually.

    *He discussed ‘quiet hours’ and similar options that all the carriers have (for Verizon, it’s FamilyBand, I believe) and also requires that they turn in the electronics to parents at night.

    *THIS IS IMPORTANT: One of his friends also has visiting friends drop their phones in a basket by the door. They’re welcome to check them anytime they like, but NO phones go upstairs to the bedrooms. This was discussed in context of the fact that the majority of the images and videos he has to catalog after arresting a predator are images that kids themselves take. (That freaked us out.) Almost invariably they are in the child’s bedroom behind a closed door. The kids freely sent it to what they thought was one person (and a ‘friend’) and yet they are immediately shared around the world. The fake accounts set up by these monsters are convincing and take advantage of the fact that an adolescent’s judgment center of the brain is not mature for several years yet.

    Before we say, “but MY kid”… no, these are good kids from normal families with parents who love them. Almost every time. And each victim and victim’s parents say, “I didn’t think it would happen to me/us/here”.

    *And he also went through how to turn off geolocation on the phone’s camera, which is how these people locate the victim. He told of a chilling but very representative case in which a girl thought she was exchanging photos with another 14-year-old girl. Once the pedophile finally got nude photos he pushed for more and the girl refused. He threatened to then post these photos on each of her friend’s/follower’s pages, which he knew because of his access to the victim’s page, but she refused again. (Note: they absolutely do this if the victim they are blackmailing does not comply.) He then revealed himself as a 40-something truck driver and told her her exact address, threatening to come kill her and her family. He was right, and got the info from the geolocation info on her iPhone pics.

    *Any information or picture shared on the internet is OUT THERE FOREVER. There is absolutely no getting it back. And child molesters are a close-knit bunch who are compelled to share images–whether of their own making or ones kids send them (knowingly or unknowingly)–all over the world. The one victim statement that stopped him up short was a young man who had gone through this a few years before who said, “Every time I meet someone new, the first thought I have is wondering if they’ve already seen me naked. And that will be with me the rest of my life.”


    Yes, it goes against the flow of what’s typical anymore, and it’s tough to take that stance with our kids. But in the interest of their protection, particularly when they’re truly not ready to handle that themselves, I’m willing to risk my kid being mad at me.

  105. Add this to your last sentence: ,or maybe someone else will…..
    I, too, am a teacher and while we try to teach students to be safe online, nothing has as much impact as a involved parent.

  106. Thanks for this. As a mom of two almost teen boys I appreciate this article, and it also deepens my resolve to be as “over-protective” as I need to be.

  107. Wow! Thank you very much for the info and help! I have a 13 and 11 year and it’s all starting, the past year they have started delving into so much more online games and apps and it’s hard to keep up. I appreciate the help with what’s out there so I can be more proactive with my kids.

  108. This is one of my fears about my 6 year old when she gets older. Facebook wasnt as popular when i was 18 so no drunken photos etc were posted to the world. It seems now kids younger and younger are gaining access to social media and if not kept an eye on, who knows who your kids are talking to.

  109. Thank you so much for the article , to tell you the truth and hopefully you can except it with an open mind.. I almost lost hope in the American values!!! people are going crazy and values are no longer an issue, English is my second language and I have been in the States for almost a year now, living in Texas; supposedly bible built , but i’m seeing things that are not ethical or even appropriate from parents before kids. I hope that American will wake up and get back to God and restore the broken. the term “Family ” is misused, abused and abounded and that’s sad. Thank you so much , please keep up the great work and publish it everywhere. I’m gonna publish your article if you allow me.
    My name is sally .

  110. Wow, my kids are little still, but this whole conversation makes me think “what’s going to be the big thing when they’re teens?” I only recognized a few of those social media platforms you listed off, which already freaks me out. Thanks for being there for your students and bringing this to the attention of parents. Each generation of teens does something their parents don’t know about- when I was a teenager, we snuck out at night and all, but I barely had access to the family phone and Kodak film took days to develop. The whole accessibility that kids have of each other now, much less that predators have is insane. And teens lack subtlety and a sense of consequence, I’m constantly reminding myself how relieved I am to have not grown up in an era where I could have shared every thought with god knows who, where I could have been talked into taking photos and sharing them in a moments notice. Just UGH. It’s a totally different frontier now.

  111. Thank you for this article I am a parent of 2 girls age of 10 and 13 and a stepfather of an 9 and 14 year olds girls also I just had an conversation with my 13 year old about having her Instagram private and I can’t get on her page she tell me that its because some older guy on there is or has creeped her out so my question was why haven’t you told me this already the answer all teenagers have is idk I continue to talk to her and I say how am I surpose to protect you if you don’t talk to me and let me know these things again idk. She once told me that I was old and over protective and I don’t understand teenagers and that’s why she tells her 14 year old stepsister things and not I….I’m sorry to go on with this but this article has hit home, my wife and I are dealing with this now.

  112. I wanted to say thank you for sharing your article. You are spot on 100%. I hope that it will reach more parents and that “they will” all be involved in keeping our children safe. I have shared with others. Best wishes.

  113. I don’t have the faintest idea of HOW to protect my daughter from the multitudes of sites available to her. Though this is somewhat informative, it doesn’t go far enough. I also suspect that once my daughter is old enough to participate in all of this, everything you mention will be passe, & other things will have taken their place.
    You mention so many options, but researching& getting a handle on all of it requires time& considerable skill that so many parents today simply don’t have.

    1. may have some info to help you. The apps out there are constantly changing and it IS a royal pain to keep on top of it. Sites like this can help.

  114. Hello, I am a teenager.
    And honestly, I 100% agree with you. Being a teen, you make a lot of mistakes. I know I’ve made mistakes. Not as severe as most, but mistakes nonetheless. We don’t think about the consequences of things we do on the internet. When I post on my blog I don’t think, “Oh my goodness, what if this horrifically offends someone in an obscure way I didn’t think about?” (Not that my content would offend anyone, but either way I don’t think that.)
    When you upload a picture you don’t think, “Woah, someone could steal my picture and use it in some awful advertisement.” It’s just not something that crosses our minds.
    So yeah, talk to us. We’re going to make mistakes. Especially on the internet. Especially since we’re teens. But really talk to us about being safe. Talk to us about online creepers. Talk to us about things that, if screenshotted, could ruin the rest of our lives. The most important thing for us is communication. Help us understand why you may have rules against certain things, especially on the internet. Explain your rules. How did you come to those rules? Just talk with us. Please. I see so many kids my age who don’t even know to care. Communicate with your kids.

  115. What are some of things (or the most important things) you would do if you had a teen? Very well said, this article is spot on, thank you!

    1. Of course open communication is key for any relationship, but especially a relationship with a vulnerable teenager. Letting them know you’re a safe person to confide in is so important. Unfortunately though that often isn’t enough. There has to be a balance between the trustworthy loving parent and the disciplinarian parent. I observe that it’s easier to focus on just one of those aspects when they deserve equal attention.

      Of course not having the first hand experience of parenting a teen I can only speak from a limited perspective, but I think just showing up in your kids life is huge. And this goes beyond attending games or school functions. Letting your teen know you care about what’s going on with them and you aren’t too busy or important to listen. I think a lot of teens just want to feel validated in their crazy confusing emotions.

      1. I am the young father of a young teen, and I’ve encountered some of the problems that you describe – hidden and inappropriate activity being the scariest. But even in light of that experience, I don’t recommend the mentality that you are encouraging. Our children are growing up steeped in social media, and it has become part of the fabric of our world – a world that they need to learn to navigate responsibly. Unfortunately, part of becoming a responsible person is learning from mistakes. I’m not suggesting a free-for-all starting at age 6, but I do believe that children need the freedom to make real mistakes. And that freedom has to be authentic – we have to trust them without being spies behind the two-way mirror. Scary, I know.

        Recently, I listened to an excellent conversation on this very topic. While it may not change your mind, it may give you additional perspectives and a larger frame of reference:

  116. Excellent “heads up” article for those who are busy raising kids! Kayla, I just wish that you had used the word “uninformed” (defined as: not having or showing awareness or understanding of the facts) rather than “ignorant” (which is an offensive word, that may keep some from actually reading this valuable article)! I do because most parents REALLY DO CARE, but are just simply uninformed! Thanks for listening to that small voice that told you that you really MUST say something about this very real danger & then writing this article for parents! I agree with other folks comments that you must be a very good Teacher & someday will be a very informed parent! God bless all Teachers! If I could, I’d give each Teacher a very nice pay raise (as Teachers are, for the most part, way underpaid!)! God bless you, Kayla, for choosing to teach!

    1. I am a mom of an 11-year-old daughter, and I learned so much from your post, Kayla, thank you! But I agree with Janet about the uninformed vs ignorant wording. And along those lines, I was with you right up to the “give a crap” wording. Let’s make the assumption that parents give a crap. Parents do much of what we do day in and day out because we care. If we are not protecting our kids online, let’s assume it’s because we don’t know how or don’t realize they’re in danger, not because we don’t give a crap. A better angle is letting us know what giving a crap looks like when it comes to internet safety, which is, to go back to Janet’s wording, a matter of being informed, not of needing to care more. From your post and your replies, you seem respectful and teachable, so this is not meant to slam you, but to help you have more credibility with an audience who really needs to receive your message as you continue to have opportunities to share it.

      1. With all due respect, although the word “ignorant” does seem to have a bit of a negative connotation, it actually means pretty much the same thing as “uninformed” …
        Dictionary definition follows:
        lacking knowledge or awareness in general; uneducated or unsophisticated.
        “he was told constantly that he was ignorant and stupid”
        synonyms: uneducated, unknowledgeable, untaught, unschooled, untutored, untrained, illiterate, unlettered, unlearned, unread, uninformed, unenlightened, benighted;
        lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about something in particular.
        “they were ignorant of astronomy”
        synonyms: without knowledge of, unaware of, unconscious of, oblivious to, incognizant of, unfamiliar with, unacquainted with, uninformed about, ill-informed about, unenlightened about, unconversant with, inexperienced in/with, naive about, green

  117. Thanks for some great insight! I was once the young high school teacher in your shoes, but I don’t think I was as with-it as you are.

    I’m curious what you think about parental influence once your kid is in college? My eldest will be living at home and going to the local university. He hasn’t entered the world of cellphones and honestly, we haven’t been super strict about the computer, though we probably should be. This will all change in the coming months. What kind of role do you think is reasonable with someone who’s now going to be an “adult”?

    1. Honestly I’m not sure if I really know. My parents were still pretty strict with me when I left for college and I was basically “adult” in name only. I think that was partially good, since I was still dumb enough to get myself into trouble. I truly believe that college boundaries have to be felt out on a case by case basis. The bigger concern there I think is not so much reaching out on the internet but reaching out with the wrong friends. There is a lot less of a chance (at least in my mind) of a college kid being so lonely that they make poor internet decisions than there is a chance to get in with bad friends who will lead him to neglect grades or become a heavy drinker or things of that sort.

      I’m not sure if that’s at all helpful… Just a personal opinion of mine. My biggest advice is just to stay aware so that you aren’t blindsided by any type of behavior. Awareness is key!

      1. My family’s rule was “as long as Dad’s paying for your food, you tell your parents where you go and what you do.” I appreciated their concern, put myself through college while eating his food and living in their house, and kept reporting to them to some degree even after moving out just because it felt good to be cherished. That was before the days of Facebook and other social apps, but I would think that as long as the parents still have any monetary input in the college student’s life, the student has an obligation to some submit to some degree of accountability. Parents should groom their children from a young age to understand that it’s all done in love, which means openness, kindness, and understanding from all involved. There is a big chance that will result in the older teens appreciating parents’ concern and willingly being open with them.

  118. Thank you! I have a daughter that is in her first year of college and two sons (15 & 17). I do my best to keep on what they are doing. Checking their accounts and their phones to see what is being done. Your article names a couple of sites I didn’t know about! Sounds like you are a great teacher and you will be an awesome parent some day.

  119. Thank you for this! I have 3 teenage boys…and they give me a run for my money! When it was just facebook…that was easy! Now, the problem seems to be as soon as parents figure out one app, the teens move on to another. It is completely overwhelming to try to keep up with it all. I try to do this by restricting their phones so they will not be able to add apps without my consent, but I know that they are smarter than me when it comes to these things. Thank you for caring enough to post this. We need more teachers like you!!

  120. Reblogged this on The Romantic Vineyard and commented:
    Today I’m doing something I hardly ever do–I’m reblogging. It’s a message for all our readers who are parents about the importance of being current as to what you allow your children to do on the internet. I need say no more, because this post is from a teacher of teens who knows first hand the temptations our teens are facing today. I pray it will help sound the alarm for all parents to stay involved and aware in their children’s lives.

  121. Thanks for this article….I speak to parents alot about this topic and have a wonderful presentation titled “Plugged-in and Tuned-out: Parenting a High-Tech Gentration where I educate and give parents “tool” to start using with their family. My handout “technology family guidelines” can be a game changer for many.

  122. I am a grandmother now. I read about these dangers. It seems to me that parents don’t take their kids to worship their God on the Sabbath. Hearing the gospel, something sinks in after a time. It’s called formation, sadly lacking in today’s world. Sunday is football or the mall…

  123. Coming from a fairly conservative Asian community, I’m well acquainted with some of the measures parents have taken to monitor what the kids are doing (there was one family I can recall, who placed cameras in their living room so they could watch the sessions between their son and his tutor to make sure that their kid wasn’t being exposed to an incorrect narrative or a bad influence). So when Nicole writes about the fact that you, as a parent, just don’t know, I can understand where that concern comes from. My issue with this is that the constant monitoring sends a message to your kids: that you don’t trust them. And if you really don’t, then that’s all well and good, but it ultimately points to a failure of parenting: that you couldn’t educate your child to make the right decisions. That you couldn’t instill a moral code, a conscience or whatever it is that stops them from taking that nude pic, or that you couldn’t be there as the outlet for their insecurities before they had to run to the Internet to vent because they didn’t feel comfortable doing it with Mom or Dad. There is going to be a time when you won’t have Refog to check if your child is taking that 10th glass of beer or not, and the Internet will still be there when they’re 21 and 300 miles away in a dorm room. This helicopter trend has to stop, and we have to start being companions on their journey rather than overseers or wardens.

    1. As a parent, I am not here to be a friend in this stage of life. And let me be perfectly clear trusting my children is completely different from knowing the limitations of their maturity level. And I definitely do not trust the Maas public that also frequent these sites. Being honest with my kids about the fact that I check their messages and posts and friend lists etc has lead to greater openness between us because they know where the line is at all times!

  124. Thank you for fanning the flames of parent/teen conflict. I hope she will one day realize that I didn’t like preaching or being a restrictive butt-hole, but did it cause I wanted to be a champion for her safety, education, and well being.

    I have so much to learn– so quickly!

  125. Kayla, the point of your article has been either missed or glossed over by “head in the sand” or “superior” type parents who think they know it all, and by some younger people who probably resent everything anyone every tried to do for them, wanted or not. A very good article and intended to generate discussion and help, not to create arguments but instead to provoke a positive response for change. Good job.

  126. Reblogged this on Anchor Of Promise and commented:
    As most of you know I have done quite a few posts on the dangers of internet. Here is a post by a teacher who knows a lot more than parents of what teens are into. Please take the time to read this very informative post by Emily. Thank you Emily for taking the time to share the truth of what parents need to know.

  127. Thank you for taking the time to write this. FYI, media is the plural form of medium. There is no “medias”.

  128. As the mother of an 18 year old girl and a 12 year old boy, I know about every one of these apps plus more. Why? Because as a mom in this technological era it is my responsibility to know. Both my children have a few of these apps on their devices. And how do I know? Because they tell me. Why do they tell me? Because from a very young age I cultivated a safe, comfortable, open relationship with my children. They tell me more than I ever told my parents, they tell me more than their friends tell their parents. I’ve made it safe for them to come to be with any and all problems, no matter how big or small they seem. Another thing, when my daughter HAD Facebook, I had Facebook. Now that she has Instagram and Twitter, I have Instagram and Twitter. Not to monitor her, but to share with her. I trust my children and sometimes, just like everyone else, they need a certain amount of privacy. This privacy is what teaches them confidence, independence and trust. I would hate for someone’s child to be going through something horrible and not be able to talk about it because they are constantly being monitored. My children show me their apps and what’s going on in their world. I don’t have Snapchat yet my daughter shows me her snap stories and her friend’s. She opens snaps while I’m sitting with her so we both see them at the same time. I know she has nothing to hide because she doesn’t have to hide from me. I believe the best way to be a parent is to also be a best friend. Some people don’t agree with this, but recently when my son was going through a sad time and was having feelings of depression, I was the first person he texted, and he knew I was in a meeting that morning, but he knew, just like my daughter does, that they come first and they can talk to me about whatever, whenever.

      1. There’s no way they’re showing you absolutely everything. With Snapchat, that’s rather the point. 🙁 And doing so makes them completely normal teenagers.

  129. I wholly agree. In all honestly, I was not smart enough to figure out loopholes without the assistance of Google– there’s typically at least 50 ideas for every “how can I hide____from my parents” query. My biggest takeaways were to use a proxy, never use your real name or age (email and account setup), and then wipe your browsing history, both of which can be blocked with proper knowledge and tools. Like you, Kayla, my intentions are not to add fuel to the fire, but to hopefully inspire parents to take interest in their child’s life– or encourage them to take interest in hobbies that limit their screen time–, even if they are deemed trustworthy.
    I can attribute much of my deceitful behavior to the fact that my parents were constantly on my case about grades (a constant “C+” in upper-level math and a 3.4 GPA are concerning, evidently), and they limited my social opportunities. They took me off the soccer team (midseason) every year, prohibited me from going out with friends on Fridays or weekends (birthday parties were debatable), phone calls were to be made after homework but before 8:30pm (and no longer than 20 min.), no summer jobs (babysitting included), and absolutely no dating. Finally, when MySpace and AIM were a big deal, I was not allowed to have an account for either, and my parents had the password for the network and laptop, because I could only use it for researching and writing papers. While I can (now) see their intentions were good, at the time I didn’t care why they did it, and I was going to find a way around it because, well, I honestly hated them and my friends had to be apprised about the building “torture”/unfairness. Looking back on it all, I would say that whole period of my life caused me to distrust my parents, and I still don’t include them in much of the details of my life because I can’t assume their reactions to good or bad news will be reasonable.
    So, rather than giving parents more reasons to manipulate their kids by piling on rules, I strongly urge the parents that read this to be invested in your child, and show genuine interest by talking to them about their life, without probing/digging. If you approach conversations like a continual interrogation, your child will respond like they are being interrogated.

  130. Brilliant article. As a 60 something I share your concerns on Internet safety . This is reality , a Ferrari in the hand of a 17 yr old
    thank you for sharing this and I Hooe the parents of latch key kids read it.

  131. I agree with mist if this article, but i do not agree that social media has led to increased rates of suicide and drug abuse.

  132. SO TRUE. ON Many issues besides main one- Parents are not being tough on own child. not tough on any thing. no rules set at all So we as a community suffer through at restaurants,r-rated movies,museums, They take babies 5y.olds evey where so they don’t have to get a sitter. Even children not being potty trained at 3 1/2with no improvement in site. Children run household. Diets poor, Teeth poor, parents exhausted! and family and friends no longer want to be around them especially if they have young impressionable children like a teen. lol !! somewhat.
    Afraid these children will become diagnosed mentally ill when in reality just lazy and lazy PARENTS, any advise on what a family can do with another family like this?

    1. How old are u ? Reality is single parents, NOT all single parents are BAD parents Don’t have Rules and let kids run riot! Did you havd a rule book on parenting with your kids (if you in fact had any @parents learn skills from ghee own parents YOU no less!!! Think on.

  133. You are missing a very important piece of the online puzzle. It’s not “stranger danger” because our kids believe the people they “meet” online are their friends. They talk to these people and the pedophiles know what to say. Yes, I was the parent that said, “my son is so innocent” right up until I saw a picture of someone’s penis on his phone asking if he liked to s()ck c#%?
    We say “don’t talk to strangers”, well these people aren’t “strangers” to our kids. They talk, play games, and bond. They trust them more than us sometimes. Don’t wait until your child runs away, and cops are searching, dial in. Stop sheltering them. They know more than we do.

    1. Amen! The FBI agent who did a seminar at our school this week has some hard-and-fast rules with his kids. One of them is that they ONLY have friends/followers with whom they are friends in real life–no exceptions. He tells teenagers that if there are 100 people on their account that they haven’t actually met in person, they are strangers, period… and that 2-3 of them are going to be predators. And those monsters know how to use this avenue.

  134. Great article! There are kids as young as 4th and 5th grade bullying each other and talking sex via social media. It is so unhealthy on so many levels!

  135. Anyone who uses the phrase “has a Facebook” has no business giving advise to anyone else. Perhaps if you had adequate knowledge of the real world, you’d be in a position to speak, but you appear to be totally clueless.

    Forbidding children from doing things only makes those things more attractive. Monitoring your child’s every move leads to mistrust and greater attempts at secrecy. Educating your child and talking to them are they key.

    Our children were using Facebook and Twitter and numerous other social media as teenagers. We only required them to “friend” us, but we didn’t track their every keystroke. We raised them to make smart choices.

    Children are FAR more likely to be killed in a car wreck than they are to be abducted or assaulted by a stranger. If you’re concerned about “stranger danger” but still drive your child around in a car, you have no ability to use logic. But, based on how poorly you write, I’d guess that critical thinking isn’t the only ability you lack, honey.

    1. Dear Breed7,

      You don’t give “advise” you give “advice”. Additionally using “critical thinking” would allow me to categorize you as a cyber bully.

      1. And I am going to go out on a limb and say that Breed7 is British, seeing as the British spell certain words differently from Americans. Including, but not limited to, “criticize” as “criticise”; “gray” as “grey”; and “advice” as “advise”

      2. I’ve noticed that everyone who posts a comment that is not 100% in agreement with this thread is shot down immediately and ripped apart by the rest of the pack. I don’t think Breed7 helped her/his argument by demeaning the original poster but equally they have a valid opinion. Monitoring and controlling our children 24/7 is going to make the ones inclined to rebel even more likely to do so. If your children feel imprisoned and misunderstood because all of their friends are doing what they are not allowed to do, they are going to be even more at risk of “finding a loophole” as the original poster pointed out they are very good at doing. It’s easy and appropriate to monitor the phone of a 10 year old but not a 15 year old. And, by the way, the British only spell “advise” with an “s” when it’s a verb.

    2. Breedy7 – I am so sorry that all of those of us that appreciate this perspective and reminder and council are not as well educated, enlightened or as smart as you. Our poor children – to have parents who have these conversations about safety and set some boundaries for them to keep them safe. Who understand that equipping them is important, but meeting them at their age appropriate maturity level is just as important – and that includes good boundaries. I would love to read your well written, thought out commentary on this subject – as I am sure you are the very perfect parent!

    3. The FBI agent who briefed us the other evening had a rather different opinion. Adolescents do NOT have fully developed judgment areas and are not ready for free reign. They’re simply not. Taking that stance leaves them vulnerable to the other adults out there who do NOT have our children’s best interests at heart, and believe me, they know every way to play that to their advantage.

      And unless you know and can speak about each of the apps she mentioned, I don’t think you get to tell her she’s clueless about the real world and has nothing to say.

    4. You might want to check your facts again. Just a little research will tell you that most abductions/exploitations of teens begin with a relationship started on-line. There’s a reason why on-line predators “groom” their victims. Most of these so-called teens/kids that contact strangers to “friend” are in reality adults looking for their next victim.

      Your attempt to play out the “forbidden fruit” syndrome when it applies to children (i.e, anyone under the age of 21 in some jurisdictions) only further proves how much more guidance they need as their brains have not fully developed, and is a specious argument at best. Your lack of information shows, not only a willful ignorance, but an appalling lack of judgement on your part. Made even more heinous by the fact that you claim to be a parent. If your children have indeed done as well as you say, then you should be very thankful and be smart enough to understand that as internet experiences go, yours is NOT the norm. Check with the FBI and local law enforcement agencies if don’t think this is an issue. Or better yet, the Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

      Usage of the phrase “has a Facebook” is neither common nor an indication of a person’s expertise or education level. It merely reflects their regional dialect, also known as a colloquialism. You also assert that the writer must be lacking in critical thinking due to how “poorly” they write. Again, this is an erroneous assumption on your part and only goes to show that you did not pay attention in your high school english classes; especially considering how many times you yourself lapse into teen vernacular, misuse commonly used words and begin sentences with prepositions. Your particular post leaves the reader wondering if you are indeed a parent, let alone an adult.

    5. Ahem … *advice* … And *the* key …not *they* key … And what seems to be the problem with saying “has a Facebook”? It simply means “has a Facebook account” … And what do you mean byte statement “If you’re concerned about stranger danger but still drive your children around in a car, you have no ability to use logic”??? What does that even mean? I don’t see the logic in that statement.

      No one is perfect … Everyone makes mistakes and typos once in a while …
      Wise people try to focus on the usable information rather than being petty and critically picking out all the mistakes or typos and completely missing the point and intent of the article.

      1. Lol … See what I mean? *by the* … not “byte” … My friends and family call me the grammar and spelling queen but I know I make mistakes and typos every so often … Or maybe I can blame it on auto correct … Yes, that’s it! 😉

  136. Being a parent of a teenager is scary. I was 17 when my oldest was born and he is now a moody 14 year old. It’s hard trying to walk that line between watching them and allowing them some freedoms of their own. I don’t want to be the helicopter mom, but I know the trouble I got into on the Internet and it didn’t have half the stuff that’s out there now. Our rule is, I will check your browser history at anytime, I will have the password to any and all social media accounts. If you don’t want me to have the password, I will delete your account. It’s probably very unfair, but honestly it’s so different from when I was a kid.

  137. yes, yes, and yes!! As a mum of 8 kids I am so aware of all of this, but so many parents aren’t! THANK YOU for taking the time to write this timely article. Thank you for looking out for our kids…we need all the eyes and ears that we can get!

  138. As a teacher and parent I can whole-heartedly agree with this. The problem that you are preaching to the choir. (That’s not YOUR problem mind you, it’s just THE problem). In other words, the people who need to hear this are exactly the people who won’t read it and don’t seem to care.

    Even worse, it is these people who don’t care that are THE problem for the rest of us. I can refuse to let my own kids have a smart-phone, but every one of their friends already have one. So no amount of monitoring my own kids can protect them. It’s like the parents who refuse to have their kids vaccinated and so put my two-year-old at risk.

    The only “solution” is that I have to try to teach my kids to be wise, keep our lines of communication open, and pray for them. But of course that has always been the “solution” and it’s hard to do. It requires wisdom on our part, and lots of time and patience. Which is exactly why most parents don’t, and can’t do it themselves.

    Thank God we have nothing to fear in this world! You, me, and my kids are all in his hands and that is the biggest lesson I can teach my kids. 🙂

  139. Mine won’t have a phone until they can pay for it. I don’t see the point. They also don’t have or need their own ipads or tablet. I see kids as young as 5 with their OWN tablet or ipad and I wonder not only why they would need it, but how their parents afford it. I am also about to have my husband move our PC out of the front room into a more trafficked room so I can see what they are watching and doing on there. I know what kind of mischief I got in to in the days of chat rooms and aol messenger, so I can only imagine how much easier it is for my kids to do so. (Mine kids are ages 7, my boy/girl twins, and 2, my little girl)

  140. Mine won’t have a phone until they can pay for it. I don’t see the point. They also don’t have or need their own ipads or tablet. I see kids as young as 5 with their OWN tablet or ipad and I wonder not only why they would need it, but how their parents afford it. I am also about to have my husband move our PC out of the front room into a more trafficked room so I can see what they are watching and doing on there. I know what kind of mischief I got in to in the days of chat rooms and aol messenger, so I can only imagine how much easier it is for my kids to do so. Mine are only 7 (boy/girl twins), and a 2 yr old girl, but I’ve already caught them talking to strangers on game apps and watching questionable videos on YouTube. (Not the 2yr old yet!!!!! Lol)

  141. So… What do you do? Forbid activity on these? Yes my son has a FB but never looks at it. He has snap and kik and I don’t even know what all. I have snap…. It’s works differently than FB as far as password etc. He is popular and athletic cute and honest. Has admitted to me trying drugs and drinking. We are close. Do I worry about him? The one I REALLY worry about is my younger daughter who is 10 now. She won’t run with the popular crowd and may find herself sitting at home when all her friends are out. ( my son is the popular crowd ) Has not happened yet but unless things change, she will be that kid who feels left out and acts like she doesn’t care but really is crushed inside. She doesn’t even have a FB yet or get on Internet except for games. How can I start from the beginning with her keeping her shielded from this. I’m scared she would be the kid likely to fall prey to this weirdness. She is extremely stubborn and already thinks I’m dumb. She, I worry about. Advise ??

      1. If all of that doesn’t work, or if she tries to get sneaky, I would try Refog. It logs all activity and occasionally takes screenshots. Of course I’d recommend setting that up for both kids so she doesn’t feel singled out, and also be completely open with her about how closely you’re monitoring her. If she knows you’re doing it, she won’t be as hurt as if she is surprised by the information.

        Hope this helps!


      2. Patti, be vigilant and stay strong with your children. These apps pop up every day one closes a new one opens. My daughter had severe self esteem issues due to health and I like most people didn’t know what some apps on her phone were. Turns out at 11 years old she was on KIK and being groomed by a human trafficking ring. There is no feeling in the world that can describe the things I saw when I found this app and how she was keeping it hidden. I have always been the mom that phone checks OFTEN but this was another one of those apps that I just didn’t know about. I now keep constant searches on social media for new apps. My kids now have more rules than ever regarding internet/phones. Our school provides chromebooks to my 6th grade daughter and after the whole KIK issue I am harder than ever on her. We now do increased phone checks and very deep detailed checks. Phones are not allowed in the bedrooms and are placed on chargers every night in the kitchen. Computers are not allowed to be used out of sight of others, if a laptop is being used at the dinning table and you close it when I walk in future use is restricted until otherwise noted, etc. I love my children enough that I don’t lose any sleep over their upset protest! Love your child that much too! I often told my oldest son before he left for college ” If I didn’t piss you off today then I probably didn’t do my job right”. He is now living on his own and told me just the other day how he appreciated that comment as he thinks often while he is away for school…will making this choice disappoint my mom? He can handle my being mad at him but disappointing me hurts him to the core!

    1. Personally, I would not let her keep a computer in her bedroom. That way if she’s using it, she’s somewhere that you will be able to see what she’s doing. Then when she gets a phone, be aware of the apps she’s downloading. It takes a lot of work, but you would probably need to make your own account so you can see what she’s up to. Like I said, my parents had all my password another read even my private messages. My advice really is to be nosy. People, especially your daughter, won’t understand or like it, but it can save her a lot of grief.

      There are also several programs mentioned in previous comments that could help. They’re an extra leg up on being able to monitor.

    2. I would recommend helping her get involved in something. Clubs (through school, community, church), sports, music, community service. She’ll have something to keep her busy and give her a place to go and will make a few friends that way. It sounds like she doesn’t take much f your advice now but maybe when she’s in middle school and there are many opportunities to get involved you can encourage her to try a few things out.

    3. I have a 12 yr. old boy and a 9 yr. old boy.
      I will gaurantee if your son has opened the KiK ap, he has seen more pornography than you have. The first thing they say is ASL? Age sex location? The site is filled with BOTS, electronic bugs that divert to porn sites. In the off chance they get to a real person, they probably met them on omegle and were told to go over to “KiK”. Hug your daughter and keep her close. You’re so lucky she is a homebody. I’d worry about the other one.

  142. Great article! When a parent thinks their kids, “would never…” Their kids probably already have. Check out a download called Covenant Eyes. It tracks web usage based on ratings you specify, teen, mature, etc.

  143. A wonderful article! Thanks for sharing. I am teaching many of these dangers to my grades 2-5 students (with limits given their age) and their parents. I can guarantee you about 25% of my under 13 students have many of these accounts WITH their parents knowledge. Knowing the rules/law says 13 & older doesn’t seem to matter to them. About another 20-25% have accounts their parents know nothing about. Students roll their eyes and giggle at me when I teach it, but since their parents are allowing it they don’t care. I know they don’t understand the dangers of what some of them are doing.
    Thanks for all you are doing to keep or students safe and informed.

  144. Your insights are well received, and you’re correct that I hadn’t heard of most of those sites. Sadly, it’s like playing whack-a-mole. Social media is, by and large, a cancer. Not so much for the connections it makes possible, but for the anonymity and complete lack of accountability it teaches our young people. You should not be free to spout every hateful, inane thought or post pictures and access without taking responsibility and ownership of those acts, and unfortunately that’s what social media is teaching our young people. That lack of accountability also gives them the notion that they should be unaccountable to their parents, so they continue to seek new ways to circumvent any type of parental oversight. Teenagers have nothing but time to obsess about these things, parents do not. In that sense, parents will always lose this battle unless they raise kids that respect their judgment.

  145. Well, I tried to be involved in my kids life, but he didn’t want or appreciate any of that. He did everything he could to go around any obstacles we put in place to try to keep him safe. When he couldn’t get past us anymore he convinced his grandparents that we were too strict and that he was 17 and shouldn’t have to explain anything to us or anyone else. So they had him move in with them. So much for that attempt. Now….not so sure that I should continue down that path with my other two kids. Total fail the first time. Don’t want to do it again.

    1. Pardon me for intruding on personal matters. I am a teen myself, and I have no authority to tell you how to parent your kids but I can’t help but say something about this. First, teenagers are stupid. No denying it. We’re kids trusted with the responsibility of adults and we have no idea how to handle it. That makes us vulnerable. My parents are much like Ms. Nicole’s parents were, they monitor everything I do on my computer. My younger brother recently got busted for being on websites that he wasn’t supposed to be on because they literally watch our every move online. I don’t complain, because I know they’re trying to keep me safe. I know not everyone’s kids are like that, and most of my peers really need a harsh slap from reality. Your son was one such kid. That is no fault of yours. Some kids have really structured families and still turn out to be jerks, like my little brother. The only way to fix this problem is exactly what was said in this article. You have to get involved. They may not understand now, they may not understand ever, but the one thing they MUST understand is that the world is dangerous, and all you are trying to do as a parent is protect them. Many of my peers call me old fashioned because like most f you here, I have never heard of most of the websites listed in this article. I don’t crave attention from strangers because I was taught from a young age that if I respect and love myself, others will love and respect me too. This lesson was instilled in me by my parents, and I hope it’s a lesson you can instill in your own children, even if they are teens. As I said I have no authority to tell you how to raise your kids, being one myself, but I pray you take these words to heart. To protect your kids, you have to do what YOU think is right. Not what they or they’re grandparents do. I hope this helped. Thank you for your time.

      1. Well said, Becca. Okay, I know I’m just your old granny, but I am so proud of you. I was one of those kids who always got into trouble. My mom still calls me her rebel child. Your parents have done a really good job with all you kids. . . . .and yeah, me and papa helped a little bit.

      2. Lil Miss Becca, you are wise beyond your years. Kudos to you for being wise, listening to counsel and accepting discipline from people who care about you, and for appreciating your parents’ efforts to love you and keep you safe in this unsafe world. Keep up the good work, young lady. Oh how I wish more teens would imitate this wise course. I wish you the best. 💞

    2. I know what you mean….sometimes IN SPITE of being involved and talking etc, a teen will make choices that are not what their parents want. Yes, we could have done more, but our daughter was very rebellious and we’re just thankful that she didn’t get into more trouble than she did. We’re now working on establishing a relationship again, because it was pretty rough while she was a teen.

    3. I am a young man in my early twenties and I am so grateful that Kayla wrote this. I to am not qualified to say anything but I pray that you are blessed and encouraged by reading this! This is such a great article and I recommend everyone reads it. I aggree with many of the comments. I grew up in a family were trust and openness as a family was a big part. When I was younger, at times I didn’t like it. I thought “oh way do I have to tell Mom and Dad everything. But I remember the times were I had done something wrong and had told my parents. I would go to bed in the evening and feel guilty and not be able to go to sleep. But I look back and I’m do grateful.

      We didn’t have cellphones/smart phones until after we began to work and we(me and my siblings) had to each pay for our own phones. I’m brother opened a Facebook account when in his late teens when he went on a overseas mission trip to keep in touch and so that he could share photos with friends now and then when he wasn’t helping with things. Likewise in my later teens (I think I was about almost 19 years old) I opened a Facebook account to share photos with friends and family at times when we were not doing anything when I went on a overseas mission trip. I had the same password as the account that my family use (and would commonly leave my account logged in. Often by mistake). Leaving in logged in resulted in family members reading this I’d posted/said and sometimes posting ony page. By they always respected me and never posted things that I would not have posted and didn’t send messages that I would not have. I’ve since changed my password (I think Facebook told me to do so) but I still leave it logged in and think that at least some of my family know what it is. Likewise my parents and some of my siblings have been told the password to my phone. But if we didn’t have the good relationship that we have I do not know if things would be the same.

      Dad got Covanent Eyes for the family a couple years ago. I guess it may have been about the time my brothers and I got smart phones. This has been great. But I wonder how it would work in a family were there is not a good trust and relationships are lacking. Recently I was giving a new phone. It did not have Covanent Eyes. But I installed it and asked Daddy to finish setting it up (log into the account we have). With Covanent Eyes you pay for one family account. then you can add as many people as there are in your family’s and all the devices too. It can send a report(s) (individually or group I think) to an accountability partner(s)(often parents or spouse I think). So Covanent Eyes can be uninstalled to “bypass the accountability ” or logged out of but this will also send a message to the accountability partner. And the idea is that the accountability partner will lovingly talk with that person. So in effect in can be bypassed to an extent. There are different settings that can be set by the partner.
      Sorry this is so long but hopefully it will be a blessing!

    4. The same thing happened to us. You’re told to monitor but then your child and his friends say “you’re too strict and other parents TRUST us so why can’t you” and then he leaves. He moves in with the friends with the “cool” parents.We still do not have a relationship and it’s been about 3 years. I have a 13 and 11 yr old now and I’m not sure how to handle social media this go around. I feel the same…the first time was a fail.

      1. I’m left wondering why you allowed a child under 18 to “move out”. Once upon a time that was called “sheltering a runaway”. Or even “Kidnapping.”
        Unless he was over 18… in which case that is yet again another bad decision on the “cool parents” part to let a young adult move in and mooch off of them.
        As parents we do the best we can to keep our children safe and raise them up to be responsible and intelligent young adults. At that point, their decisions (good or bad) are on them and they’re the ones who “own” the consequences of the paths they forged.

      2. I don’t think your minor-aged child may move anywhere without your permission. Minors cannot just leave their home of their own choosing. You stop him any way you can. Talk to people who know more than you, learn from others who are also going through it, but don’t just give up because you have a strong-willed kid.

    5. At 17 I was out on my own in a foreign country. Had to have a bit of cop on and we had it back then, it’s the parents nowadays that spoil the kids so much that they can’t think for themselves. How did we know the dangers of the big world at 16/17. Most 16 year olds now don’t know how to cook a proper dinner.

    6. I also do not wish to intrude on a personal situation, but shame on the grandparents for taking your son from you! My parents raised me much like this article suggests, and because of that I am still here today, but they raised me (and my siblings) now they may not always agree with my decisions, but they always defer to me when dealing with my kids!

    7. I suggest parents setting up a “contract” of sorts with their kids before getting a phone, tablet, laptop, etc and even a car. Clearly state that it is a luxury, not a right, and that it will be monitored and can be taken away, etc. Take about the contract terms, and parents and teen sign. Teens (well everyone) like to know what to expect. Clear expectations and consistency is the key. The longer they have access without being monitored, the harder the push-back will be. Best to set the ground rules beforehand.

  146. We hear you, Kayla, and I applaud you for you passion in trying to get the word out to parents that they truly do need to monitor what their kids are doing with the smartphones and on social media. Teens love attention and they can reach a global audience very easily which is dangerous as 50% of them have public social media profiles and 50% of them love to talk to online strangers…not realizing that there are dangerous people out there seeking them. I am the CEO of MamaBear App and the stats support exactly what you are saying. We’re also trying to get the word out and your parents did exactly the right thing by watching out for you when you were a teen. Bravo to you for speaking out!

  147. You can also download a program called Refrog or Refog. It logs every key your kids type and takes periodic screen shots.

    My devices, my internet access, means no privacy for you.

    1. Don’t trust any software to do the job for you. All you need is one geek friend in the crowd to let everybody know how to defeat software like this that their parents are trying to use, or if they just have to spend some time searching the Internet for instructions on how to get past it.
      I found clear instructions on how to remove the password from Refog on the web on a site called just by doing a Google search for ‘refog defeat’, and then it can be easily uninstalled.

  148. This is a must read for everyone who has kids in their lives whether they be yours or not! Thank you for your insight!!

  149. Thank you so much for this amazing article!! I can’t wait to share it with my 12 yr old later! Just the other day he and I were having it out about Internet safety yet again! Much like your parents did, I have access to all of his emails, Internet use, etc and while he thinks I’m old and outdated — (he can think that all he wants) I do it because he is naive and not able to make good decisions. As a parent, especially a single mom, it’s hard to always be the bad the guy but I will play the villain if it keep his image, information, and person safe.

    1. I know it’s so hard for him to understand, because it was for me, but I am so grateful now for my “old and outdated parents”. Glad to be an encouragement to you!

    2. i agree with your choices I hope you do not TELLhim he is naive and not able to make good decisions. Surely he sometimes makes good decisions

  150. Thank you for sharing from your heart and speaking the truth. I have no kids myself but I see plenty of them that are unsupervised and in dangerous territory. I will pass this along.

    1. DO NOT SPREAD THIS!!!! This is a vehicle to install further fear and trust issues in teenagers trying to discover their limits while they develop. this sort of breach in security suggested in the article and comments does not mend but actually strains the bond between parents and children. Teenagers are going to be curious online and need to discover what they can and cannot handle with support and trust not oppression and bigotry. If you children are participating in things online that are questionable such as talking to strangers and revealing themselves sexually, the problem is not with the forums they’re on but usually a lack of independence, self-esteem, and insight. all things that need to be provided by parents of guardians and things that are addressed nowhere in this article as a problem or solution.

      1. Amen Becky!

        I’m a little disturbed that the OP claims to be a teacher, but uses the term “social medias.” Beyond that, not all of us old fogey parents of teens are ignorant of the internet and how it works.

      2. I am not only a parent of a teenager, I am also a gamer. I talk to people online constantly and I can assure you, you should be worried. The people that prey on your children are much smarter than you, no matter how smart you think you are, and there are a lot of them out there. The internet and social media are a goldmine for peadophiles because it gives them such easy access to innocent children who trust every word a stranger tells them online. You may think you’re supporting their independence by not being involoved but a child only sees it as neglect. Children may complain about their over protective interfering parents but those children also feel loved and supported and are able to make safer and wiser choices and not need to search for the attention and approval of strangers online.

      3. This is a very naïve response. I’m going to guess that you’re not a parent, but an idealistic young adult. Everyone does their best parenting before they actually have kids.

      4. My 10 year old daughter was at a friends house and they were videochatting with a man who was masterbating. Not only is this sick, it’s completely illegal. The man has been arrested.

        My daughter has plenty of independence and self esteem – what she needs is guidance from me. The unlimited exposure of social media is something that CHILDREN don’t understand, and as ADULTS it’s our job to help them navigate. For you to infer that this article instills fear and trust issues in teenagers is ridiculous. This article is right on. I don’t consider caring for my child’s welfare oppression and bigotry.

      5. With all due respect, I disagree with this wholeheartedly. My mom’s rule has ALWAYS been If you make a new social media account, you give me the username and password. I complied. When I was 15/16/17 I made myself a tumblr, my mom had the link/username/password, etc. Tumblr is an online community that can either be full of harmless fandoms, or that promotes self harm, mental illness, and eating disorders as romantic and beautiful. I fell in with that second group. Before long I was really doing badly, falling into traps of self harm, disordered thinking, major depression. If my mom hadn’t been there to see what I was doing, the messages I was sending, the things I was posting, I don’t know would have happened. But it wouldn’t have been pretty. I have stories like that for almost every facet of social media. My mom taught me how to be a kind, thoughtful, conscious, human being. She kept me safe, when I thought I was invincible. I’m in college now, and she’s letting me have my space, but that’s only because I know and she knows that I know better. And, I think this idea that teenagers need to discover their sexuality, and be curious, and explore, is a major issue. Because things like revealing yourself sexually isn’t just a minor curiosity, in many places it gets you on a sex offender list. And while I agree the root of those issues and action isn’t social media, social media is the route through which these issues are expressing themselves, and therefore it needs to be monitored.

      6. That is a bunch of phyco babble. Parents need to set and inforce limits for their children. I am a mom, grandmom and great grandma.
        So far the ones that are old enough, have finished school or college, have a job, and have never been in trouble. Kids cannot rear them-

      7. Are you f’ing serious?? You sound like part of the problem. Parents all too often tune out and call it “putting trust in their kids”.. and wind up learning the hard way. A child posting naked pics online- you chalk it up to lack of confidence and independence? My response- say goodbye to your phone, computer and social life for a few months BECAUSE I LOVE YOU. I’m the mother of a very well rounded almost 15 year old boy. I trust him implicitly- does that mean I forfeit my rights to check in on him from time to time for fear of making him feel violated? Hell no- I check up on him NOT because I don’t trust him- I check on him because I don’t trust everyone else. My job is to protect every inch of that human being. If my parenting pisses him off every once in a while- so be it- as long as what I’m doing is keeping him alive

      8. They are “talking to strangers and revealing themselves sexually,” and what you say they need is more independence? Asinine!

      9. As someone who works closely with teens as a teacher I can tell you one thing: they are not going to have self esteem and you can’t provide them with That. you are not theis friend. You are their parent. If you explain why you are doing things, it helps.

      10. Do you have children? Were you ever a teenager. Giveme a teen whohas never stretched the limits, they are the ones that will have trouble later in life

      11. “does not mend but actually strains the bond between parents and children.” ~ I totally agree Becky. Our biggest defense is so connect and bond with our children. They will find an account that we aren’t on. I am on my 12 year old’s instagram. I see her friends change their accounts monthly. Why? Because their parents find their accounts and they change them. I’ve also seen teens say things as “my mom lectures and preaches me 364 days a year and tonight she wants to hang out. Why would I want to when she is nothing but preachy.” Connect and bond, connect and bond. Did I mention connect?

      12. This is literally the only comment I agree on in this entire chain. When I was a teenager, which, granted, wasnt that long ago, my parents would randomly snatch my phone or computer from me while i was using it and just do a random search. Whenever they saw a contact in my phone who they didnt know, they would freak out and demand a meet up with that person. If I was on a website or blog and they even heard someone say something even as minor as ‘hell’ they would ban me from ever going on that website again. I have major trust issues to this day.

      13. Totally agree with Becky!

        One thing I noticed when I went to university is 90% of the kids that drop out in the first year do so because mommy and daddy weren’t around to “parent” them.

      14. Ok, either you’re a sneaky teen or a leftover from the 60s. In the late 90s I hesitated to try to check what my daughter was doing, but I got over it. And there werent most of the apps there are now. As I told her when she told me that she was old enough to make good decisions, “The fact that you think that is proof that you’re not. Until you can recognize that you might be wrong and the potential cost of that, you’re not there yet.”

      15. And why don’t we let our toddlers wander out in the road or try out swimming in a swift river too. We wouldn’t want to deprive them of a quality learning opportunity and life lesson by being too restrictive.

      16. I am a technology teacher, an older adult and a parent and the wife of a law enforcement person. Pay attention what is state is very true. If there is mistrust then usually there is a bigger problem than this. My children do not like my “watchful eye” but after discussing why we monitor their online behavior, they understand it is only to keep them safe. If we find a problem, it is pointed out and explained why it is a problem. They are allowed to explain their side of things as well, leaving things open for communication between child and adult.

      17. I am hoping by your naïveté you are a teenager. Hahaha. What a joke that you equate setting limits with bigotry. It is called parenting!! Nowhere did the author say not to support and trust your child, only to realize that curiosity may lead them to make poor choices. You reiterated the author’s stance that indeed teenagers do struggle with self-esteem issues. The author made the solution clear…our presence combined with open and honest conversation is invaluable.

      18. No disrespect but KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. I worked w teenagers at schools as a therapist for 33 years plus raised several of my own. It is ASTONISHING how little teens tell their parents UNLESS parents have some knowledge & ask the ‘right’ questions, while staying involved n showing n expressing their love. Most teens WANT to have a close relationship w at least one of their parents but often parents think MISTAKENLY that teens need less supervision, if any. Toddlers get in trouble BY MISTAKE! Teens get in trouble BY DESIGN N CAREFUL, SNEAKY PLANNING.
        Children arent RUINED OR TWARTED by involved & educated parents if their involvement is done w love n concern that are well expressed repeatedly. Kids WANT to feel loved & safe. Even gang members i worked with wished their parents had KNOWN what to watch for & had monitored their activity more. This article is insightful, well-written, accurate and up to date. At least as of today…i google ‘newest teen apps’ weekly to try the new ones & read about their features. PLEASE LOVE YOUR KIDS TO LIFE. DONT LOVE THEM SO MUCH YOU LOVE THEM TO DEATH. I helped counsel entire schools after students died or committed suicide!! Be RIGOROUSLY INVOLVED!! I told mine, ” You can hate me for now…but im NOT burying my kids! You are far too precious to me!” When the choices w your kids are MAD VS DEAD (potentially) let them be mad! They are the most PRECIOUS, PRICELESS gift of ALL time. You have only 936 WEEKS to guide & protect them from BIRTH to GRADUATION! Guide them carefully, i beg of you. Bc i work w the ignored ones who stay suspended, get battery charges, join gangs, cut themselves, and cry themselves to sleep wishing someone cared enough to be involved. YOU know how much you care… make sure THEY know!
        Shalom, w love,
        Cindy Shaw

      19. Completely agree with you. You cannot micro manage your children. Instead talk to them about the dangers of engaging in inappropriate actions and show them the consequences with examples. Guidance, love, assurance & security will take care of your childs safe future rather than getting up everyday and checking which new app can harm your child.

      20. I totally disagree with you! Raising children is not a game or social experiment. Parents are responsible to raise them the right way at home, so that when they move out, they are prepared for real life! If you read the research on “self-esteem”, lack of boundaries is extremely damaging to children. Parents “provide guidance” by setting rules to keep their children safe. This is the same as teaching your child not to touch a hot stove. For teenagers, their independence can result in life long scars from the burns of their own experimentation. Responsible parenting results in responsible adults!

      21. As a licensed school counselor, I completely disagree. Children need guidance and supervision. Parents and friends are two different things. Parents must be parents. I encourage parents to regularly check students’ phones and rooms. It isn’t the student’s phone if the parent paid for it. Therefore there is no right to privacy. The student’s space in the home is not his or her room. It is the parent’s room that they allow the child to use. Students frequently express a desire for privacy when they desire to keep a negative behavior secret.

      22. When I was 15 my best friend had a 30 year old boyfriend who she was sleepin with. After a bit she said to me’isn’t it aazing! My mum says Pete can move in to our house. I didn’t think it was amazing at the time, as I had better parents. Fifteen years later she said to me about that event ‘I felt as if my last protection had been taken away. Teenagers need boundaries, even when they pretend they don’t. And the internet is not a safe space. I am grown-up, but some people I have encountered on-line have made me feel insecure.

      23. I am shocked that you suggest you just treat the root problem. The original issue of low self esteem should be addressed of course and needs attention & is likely where it stems & will affect the rest of the lives negatively if not. However, if you do not address immediately this symptom you may not have a child anymore to improve that self esteem. Kids are molested, raped, murdered, kidnapped at alarming rates

      24. Becky, you are totally insane. Or just really not clued in. This does not “strain the bond” between children and their parents – IT HELPS TO CREATE AND PRESERVE ONE. This is a wholly different world than the one I grew up in, or even the one that existed when I became a parent at the age of 40 in 1999. The internet is largely considered the “wild west” by ethicists and attorneys who deal with unwritten law regarding the internet. I know, because my child (9 years old at the time) wrote a song at the behest of her music theory teacher (at a very world famous music conservatory) during the first Obama campaign. Her teacher wanted to “get involved” and didn’t really know what she wanted to do, but wanted to film music and dance created by kids. About 24 of them. They all wrote songs and performed them. Well my kid ended up being the ONLY kid in the video, it was professionally shot and edited, and posted on YouTube without my consent. Within 24 hrs it went completely viral, The Drudge Report called for a hate mail campaign, they were talking about it every two hours on Fox News, Bill O’Reilly and even Jon Stewart and The View. Then the haters started making fake videos of my daughter with her voice overdubbed singing white supremacy lyrics. Another made a video of her marching with the Hitler Youth. Another made a video of her with Kim Jong starting with a nuclear bomb exploding. GUESS WHAT? My kid was EXPELLED a week before Honors Recitals (an auspicious accomplishment that sometimes takes years of practice to achieve) from this very prestigious music conservatory because they felt the presence of she and her sister on campus presented a danger to the other students! We had to jump through hoops, pay more attorneys, and thankfully the most important master teacher at this school was my father’s protoge and he literally said he would walk out if they didn’t immediately reinstate my kids. The school was receiving death threats. So was I. My email was hacked into. People called DCFS because they said I had indoctrinated my children into a cult (I’m a registered Democrat, but apparently that also makes me a Communist to these idiots). These “bad” videos on on You Tube FOREVER. We had 11 attorneys trying to have them taken down due to copyright infringement, intellectual property violation, exploitation of a minor, etc. We were informed by YouTube that we could actually be sued by the people who posted the videos. The “real” video was taken down within days, so now, only the bad ones exist, FOREVER. The first amendment actually PROTECTS these nut-jobs because the right to “political parody” is written into the constitution. That’s why we can watch Sat Night Live. And now, my kid who is about to write her college essay applications has to explain in the last 500 word comment area WHY SHE IS ON THE INTERNET SINGING SONGS ABOUT WHITE SUPREMACY. Yep, it will follow her the rest of her life.

        Additionally, when she was in 8th grade, she suffered from a condition that caused her to lose all her hair. She is a profoundly beautiful girl, immeasurably musically talented, pulls tops grades and had a lot of friends. Until all her hair fell out. Then they scattered like cockroaches. She also had a snapchat, insta-gram, whatever-a-gram. One of them links you to a site called ASK.FM. It’s also an anonymous “social media” site where kids can bully other kids. That’s what happened to her…. By her very own classmates, because it was pretty obvious by the comments who it was coming from. Sites like and YikYak are HIGHLY DANGEROUS. Go on YikYak (this is mainly a college-age group, believe it or not) and see what they write. Bigoted, homophobic, anti-Semitic, you name it. If there’s a way to bully someone, they do it.

        So, if my kid doesn’t trust or respect me enough to give me their pass-codes, they do not earn the privilege of getting to engage in what should be “nice” forms of social media. They do not get to post stupid comments they don’t realize could affect their college applications. And obviously they have something to hide if they don’t want me to see it. If it’s something I shouldn’t know, then they shouldn’t be saying it on social media. And that’s only the tip of the ice-berg. This doesn’t even address the stalkers and pedophiles who are out there HUNTING for plaint kids to prey upon.

        HERE’S ANOTER REASON WHY: UNIVERSITIES MONITOR THIS STUFF WHEN YOU APPLY. They not only monitor the CONTENT of your posts, they have companies who calculate HOW MUCH TIME you spend on social media. If you spend a lot of time for legitimate reasons (a study group, for example), you have to explain it in those final 500 words after your college essay. And universities know if you’re lying BECAUSE THEY CHECK.

        I realize none of this speaks to the dangers expressed by this lovely gal who wrote this article. It speaks to even MORE dangers that exist. All the more reason to WATCH YOUR KIDS. I’ll bet the parents of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold wish they had monitored the crap out of their kid’s computers. I think you get my point here. A little bit of firm boundaries go a Helluva long way when parenting. Children (and mine are nearing adulthood) WANT BOUNDARIES. THEY WANT STRUCTURE. MOST OF ALL, THEY WANT TO KNOW THEIR PARENTS CARE. EVEN IF IT PISSES THEM OFF. At the end of the day, I’d rather have an annoyed kid than a dead one.

      25. It’s not about trusting or not trusting your kids…its about the contacts from the outside world they stumble upon in innocence. It’s just an update to what my parents dealt with in teaching me, back in the 50s and 60s to be careful in face to face interaction with strangers. Only now, social media has added anonymity, the possibility of misrepresentation and 24/7 access to that — and a parent who does not mitigate against that is just not doing their job as a parent!

      26. Parents are responsible for their children. Better the kids learn from their parents, not strangers. Keeping your child safe is not a breach in security! The forums aren’t being criticized…just letting patents know what is out there.

      27. There is balance in everything. Parents who are over authorative, do not connect with their children, but insist on absolute control are the cause of many problems and you are right, will lead to rebellion.

        However, that does not mean that all parents who impose limits cause these problems. If you read most of the comments carefully, especially those from the children who had close, loving parents who imposed limits, you will see that it is absolutely as necessary as holding a toddler’s hand while crossing the road.

        You don’t scream at the toddler without explanation, or shut the poor child indoors for fear of them ever being harmed outdoors! No, you go out with them, gently allow them to explore and explain why running into the road is dangerous. The internet is today’s ‘busy road’.

        The ability to foresee danger is not fully formed until somewhere in the mid-twenties (do some research into the pre-frontal cortex and teenagers feeling invincible), so no matter how mature and independent or careful you think you are, don’t be so sure!! A loving parent who cares about you and wants you to develop your independence is invaluable.

        It is just so sad that there are so many parents who think that control, screaming, punishment or bullying will work. It doesn’t. It does the opposite.

      28. Agreed!
        My privacy was very important to me ad a teenager, I acted out worse because of being under my parents thumb than anything.
        I don’t let the internet into my kids rooms, but I don’t feel the need to go through their phones and police their every thought, that’s fear based and stupid. It shows them I don’t trust them and I assume the worst, it’s like being in probation for nothing.
        GIVE YOUR KIDS THE POSITIVE ATTENTION THEY NEED, get them involved in things that nourish who they are! Be involved. Show them how to make educated decisions AND then you won’t have worrt, step back and let them find themselves.

      29. So perfectly stated, Emma! “She kept me safe, when I thought I was invincible.” This statement takes into account a legitimate mindset in the adolescent years. Kids at this age are convinced that these terrible things only happen to other people.


  151. Fantastic article! It’s time for us parents to get our heads out of the sand and start paying attention to what’s really going on. Thank you for your insight.

      1. Ok i totally agree. I did anything I could that my parents didn’t see. So do we not give them smart phones? Or tablets? You cannot watch them every second. I don’t see specific solutions or advice here.

        1. Well I really don’t feel like I have any authority to give advice. I can warn parents and help them be more aware, but each child is different and I don’t have kids of my own. I can only say that being constantly involved and knowing what your kids are up to is half the battle.

      2. I have learned this lesson the hard way as a parent. My child was only ten when he was chatting to creeps online. He even introduced them to his younger brother and sister. Never again will I take the approach that my child/teen wont be curious or talk to grown men/women online, that they will heed my warnings about online safety. Even though we preached and discussed it in our home it still happened. Scary what children will do online and not tell you. Thankfully we learned our lesson quickly and no harm came to our children but it is a serious subject. Well done for highlighting it. Parents stop what you are doing and just check up on what your child has been doing online, it might just save your child.

      3. Thank you. I have also shared it with our youth leader at church for him to be able to pass along to other parents. I trust my daughter, but I know their are predators out there that she would not recognize as the evil they are. We make a point of having meal and other times of fun to keep connected. With all these websites and apps, I still feel sometimes I’m not doing enough.

      4. I am not “ignorant”, and neither are most parents. I don’t think teachers know my kids better than me either. This does not have so much to do with the Internet, but more with family values … In ANY decade. Oh, and Facebook is referred that way or FB, it is not referred to as the awkward “a Facebook”. Try again when you get off your throne and actually have a few teenagers of your own.

      5. I appreciate your humility in not being a parent, but don’t apologize for having a strong opinion about this! The internet has become untenable for teens whose frontal lobes are not fully formed (that’s science). Responsible parents don’t give good kids the equipment necessary to make devastating decisions. It’s all about protecting our progeny from their own temporary insanity. No devices for ours until adulthood.

      6. How can we as parents specifically block the apps and make sure that ALL messages and application downloads must be authorized by a parent? That is the information I am always trying to find out. We have tablets but no phone for my daughter yet and each night they must come out to us…When she gets a phone, she will have to hand it over to us and disclose all passwords but I want to make sure she can’t download these apps to begin with.

      7. Parents w/ eyes open,
        No, you do not give them a smart phone. It’s true that you can’t watch them every second, which is why they shouldn’t have a smart phone. Its our job to attempt to keep them safe. No child needs the Internet in their pocket 24/7.

        You can also block them from being able to text photos, and in my opinion should.

      8. Parent with eyes open- I am a licensed and working school counselor. Methods to monitor- Pay an extra $5 to have parental controls on your child’s phone. You can make it so that they cannot text during school hours, etc. You can read their text messages online and view activity. This is available through your cell service provider. I also strongly recommend having a charging station within the home. Your kiddo puts the phone on the charging station (in a public area of the home) each night with full knowledge that you are likely to look through the phone before the next morning. Hope this helps!

      9. Tablets, Smart Phones and any Internet Access should not be in Teenager bedrooms when it is time for sleep. Parents need to collect these items at a reasonable hour, valuable sleep is lost while surfing, chatting, etc…I hear parents say they need to use their device as an alarm clock. I would suggest going to Walmart and purchasing an alarm clock for that purpose. You will never be able to monitor everything on the internet, but collecting these items each night will help. Parents should be monitoring social media usage, by checking what their children are posting, and being educated themselves on social media……

      10. We are not ignorant and well-intentioned. We are overwhelmed. We put settings on phones, tvs, and computers. We ask for every block possible from the phone company. We feel like detectives everyday trying to catch, stop, prevent, inform, and educate our children. We are running 50 miles forward, just to be kik’d 55 miles back. We pray, we cry, we talk, we eat dinner at the table, we read our bible, take them to church, send them to school, pray some more. We may well be ignorant, but we try, is it good enough, probably not. Ultimately, the teenager will outsmart, outwit, outplay us with technology. The blog article helps present the problem but parents need solutions.

    1. I made my kids a deal, I will buy a smart phone that you can use, but the phone is mine!! That means I need all your passwords to all of you accounts. You will give the phone anytime I ask to see it and I will check up on anything I choose to. if there are inappropriate things on the phone I will confiscate the phone! My kids said OK Mom, we have nothing to hide. My friend was flabbergasted when she heard about it. What about their privacy and their personal space?? I say if I am paying for the phone and it is my responsibility to keep them safe, I will use EVERY means necessary to do so. My kids are 12, 14, and 15 I want them to learn now what is and is not appropriate and what can bring you harm and keep you safe. If I find stuff I do not like we always discuss why and look up the fact on the internet (it is very useful). My son who is 15 has had his phone for almost a year and I rarely check anymore. The girls however, My 14 yearly had a snapchat act with a “friend” she had never met. After some investigating, we found out her 15 year old “friend” from Florida was actually a 33 year old man only 2 hours from where we live in Montana. So yes, I check up on them. They can have privacy and personal space when they move out and I know I have taught them everything I could on how to stay safe.

      1. Yes, yes, yes! We too have “provided” phones for our kids to use, but they are mine so I expect that when I ask, I get them. And we have not had too many issues, but I’m sure we have thwarted their efforts in some areas ie: no snap chat, no Instagram, no Twitter, no Kik, etc. I’m glad I’m not the only parent with these thoughts!

      2. We do the same. It’s not an invasion of their privacy if they know this policy up front. I don’t allow snap chat or instagram. My 15 year old daughter had kik, but there were issues with a former friend on it, so we deleted it from her phone. Not worth the drama. She doesn’t have most of the social apps — just Facebook and may only friend people she knows in real life. She’s been hassled by some friends because we don’t allow certain apps, but she’s really ok with it.

      3. Thank you for these concrete suggestions! As a 49 year old mom of a 10 year old son, I know that he already knows more about technology and how it works in today’s world than I do! We have not yet gotten him a phone, but he has a tablet and I am terrified that he will take the bait from some creep out there offering free Minecraft mods or something!!! I fear that I do not know enough to be able to see if he is straying from the “secure” areas we have set up for him, simply because I am not tech savvy!! These were totally not issues my parents had to deal with and I feel so very lost!!!

      4. I highly recommend you continue to daily watch what your 15 yr old son is doing. Many tend to hover more over girls than boys. Please hover equally. We’ve had a teen boy locally that was sucked into a male prostitute ring. He was in over his head before he knew it. Please continue invading their privacy. It is your job and you’re doing it well.

      5. Absolutely right…their privacy is personal and belongs in a diary. Social media is not subject to the same privacy rules. Parents should have access to social media contacts of their children

      6. You go Mom! We did the same when our kids were younger and they didn’t like it but we do believe we save them from some trouble although they did manage occasionally to get around it. At that age they think they’re invincible and they can make mistakes that have lifelong consequences. To the parent who says they need their privacy, they can have that when you’re 21 and completely out on their own and paying for everything. Or 18 if they’re not going to college or university.

      7. Same here! My 13 year old daughter calls me a “helicopter mom” but so be it! If it means that she’s safe, then she can call me whatever she wants! People looked at me crazy when she just (at the age of 13) received a cell phone. I also told her that she was not allowed to delete any text messages or any messages of any kind and even if she did, I could find them (maybe I fibbed a bit there) but enough to scare her into not deleting them. I told her that if she made me go looking for them by deleting them, I would for sure confiscate the phone. She is not allowed to have KIK, Facebook, Snapchat or any other apps without first asking my permission and if I find them, she will no longer have a phone. That scares her enough not to download them. Good enough for me. I’d rather she be mad at me and safe than to give her whatever she wants and to have her end up dead!

      8. This is how we do it too. Our kids are not allowed to have phones until they are 14. When they do get a phone we have access to everything on the phone and they know we check it regularly. Also, we have them leave their phone with us at night and during school time (we homeschool). There are also certain apps (many of which were mentioned above) that my kids are not allowed to have. My oldest is 15 and he has FB and Instagram. That is all of the ones listed by the author. My younger kids don’t have any of the social apps on their electronics.

    2. This isn’t really a reply but was the only way I could see to comment. Anyway I loved the article and appreciate the heads up and knowing about apps that I didn’t know existed. And btw, when it comes to safety EVERYONE has the right — and the responsibility — to say something