Whether we like it or not, we all know that tweeners are more active on social media now than ever.
Take a look down any hallway in a middle-school, and you will see kids everywhere hiding their smart phones in their lockers and bags to make a quick text or social media update.
We don't need to review the consequences and dangers of children being online unattended. We see stories about it each night on prime time TV. Horrific stories of children being abducted and held in the custody of demented strangers.
One of the major challenges for parents is restricting access for their children. It is not nearly as easy as it was 10 years ago, where there was one software program that you can install to keep your kids safe. Kids are now primarily accessing social media sites.
Now kids are getting their hands on a second, secret smart phone and keeping it hidden from their parents. It is becoming more accessible for kids to do this being that they can order pre-paid smart phones from companies that have lax policies about age restrictions. Once they can get their hands on these phones, they keep the phone on silent and hidden from their parents at all times.
There are also apps that are posing an equal danger for kids. Apps such as Snapchat allow tweens to rapidly send and receive photos back and forth to one another in private and in groups. This can pose a huge threat to children that are unaware who is on the other end of that phone.
Insecure pubescent children are curious, attention seeking, and bold. Hundreds of kids each week talk to someone new that they meet online without any way of verifying who they are or what their intentions are.
As parents, we need to fight for the safety of our children. Tween age children demand privacy and feel as though that have the right to do whatever they want. When they feel as though their privacy has been violated, they become extremely defensive and can sometimes backfire.
The best idea is to find a balance between keeping your kids safe, and totally invading their privacy. As a Father, if I feel my child is in danger or is in over his head, I will do anything in my power to keep him safe. Even if he is mad at me forever nothing is more important than his safety.
There is no handbook on parenting. Each child is different. Some kids are honor roll students and the dangers of adult predators are evident to them. Other kids live on the edge and want to meet new people and find adrenaline filled situations.
That said, there aren't end-all, be-all tips to keep your kid safe. There are no universal standards because each family has different situations. What actions you take are totally up to you.
The best thing we, as parents, can all do is to continue to educate ourselves on the latest technology, apps, and social media sites and learn to use it ourselves. Parents with an "ignorance is bliss" attitude are the most dangerous, while parents who are up-to-date on all of the latest technologies are the ones who will most likely be aware of the latest warning signs.
Family structures are changing. Learn how to be a good digital parent and keep your kids safe with this infographic.