Expert: Parents should be invasive when it comes to child's social media use

We've seen countless examples of how one post can carry serious consequences. Mistakes go viral now.

According to a Pew Research study from two years ago, 94 percent of teens use a smart phone to connect. The reality is, kids today were born into the Social Age, we adults eased into.

The popularity of apps like Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram is frightening for parents who worry their kids are too young to fully comprehend how much power they have with one click of a button.

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So much of a child’s life today is seen through the lens of a camera. It’s depicted in a post and measured by likes, comments, and number of followers.

Dad James DeLuca explained his concerns with his kids on social media.

"Look at me, look at me, look at me. Adults struggle with it. A 12 or 13-year-old stands no chance. It promotes a kind of narcissism where everybody is so concerned who they're friends with, who's got the most likes,” DeLuca said. “At the end of the day if you disconnect nothing really changes. It’s very much an illusion."

5 On Your Side sat down with a group of parents in the St. Louis area to find out what their biggest concerns are when it comes to the social apps on their kids' phones.

Ed Zumwinkel explained he worries most about their knowledge of the apps and their power.

"Making sure their equipped to handle it because I've given up trying to keep up with it," he said.
Mom Kim Ramirez said the unknown of what’s out there scares her: "There's newer apps that I’m not aware of."

Mom Maria Lieser feels the same. Not knowing what they’re getting into online is scary for her.

"Where are they going to hit danger before I know that there's even danger out there," she said.

Danielle Smith is the author of a lifestyle blog called ‘Pretty Extraordinary’ and the book Social Media Engagement for Dummies. She's also a mom to an 11 and 13-year-old.

Smith asked the parents, "Do you worry about them putting the wrong thing online or do you think you've had good, strong conversation with them that will guide them appropriately?"

DeLuca responded, "yes, we do worry."

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Zumwinkel explained, "We just harped and harped that everything is permanent and just be so careful. If you're going to respond, be thoughtful, be civil, be truthful."

Lieser says she wish she would have had a more serious conversation with her kids explaining.

"We never set up parameters or rules for them. I do follow some of my kids on some of their apps but I know not on all of them," Lieser said.

"The master password on his phone is something I put in," said DeLuca.

Smith says when it comes to your children on social media, parents should be invasive to protect them.

"That’s part of the conversation that I think parents should be having with their kids. We have a partnership. So, I’m here with you. I am going to be a bit up in your business and it’s important that I’m guiding you in your online persona so you don't make a decision that you regret," explained Smith.

DeLuca agreed adding, "I told him to never expect he’s got complete privacy for now because he is learning he's in 7th grade."

We've seen countless examples of how one post can carry serious consequences. Mistakes go viral now.

"You don't get second chances," said DeLuca.

You can find more information on monitoring your child’s online activity below:

- Setting smart limits for your kids’ call phone use

- These 3 apps can help you monitor your teens' activities online