What parents should know about social media

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Updated: 11/16/2012 9:11 am Published: 11/15/2012 8:43 pm

Shelly Yoder might sound like every mom of teenagers in America when she says she “absolutely” wishes she knew more about social media.
“I just get kind of tired of having to keep up with everything. It seems once I get up to speed on something, it changes,” Yoder told FOX23.
Yoder is mom to a 15 year-old son and a 14 year-old daughter, and she says when it comes to social media it's her daughter's online activity that she's most curious about.
“I check up on her the best that I can. I've told her to be careful about what she posts.”
FOX23’s social media reporter Adam Paluka checked Yoder’s daughter’s Facebook profile and found all security settings were at the highest level.
Yoder then asked Paluka to check her daughter’s Twitter settings.
“Like If I wanted to follow my daughter on Twitter, does she have to accept me if her tweets are protected?”
The answer is yes, but Yoder’s daughter’s tweets were not protected. On Facebook, she was doing everything right, but on Twitter it was a different story.
Local author and social media expert Melanie Nelson, who wrote “Facebook All-in-one for Dummies,” talked about the tricky waters parents trend when it comes to social media.
“I strongly believe that parents probably should be checking in, especially at 13 and 14, you should have those passwords,” Nelson said.
That's something Yoder has done for years
“That's my way of kind of checking up on them. I am also friends with both of them on Facebook,” she said.
Yoder says she worries about what her daughter's putting out there for the world to see.
“It’s a fine line to know what's acceptable and what's not, because the creepers out there can glean a lot of information.”
Nelson sympathizes and says that's why parents need to talk about social media safety and privacy early and often.
“Make sure that your kid's are friend only, make sure they understand what public is, make they're establishing their reputation in a way that's not going to haunt them later,” Nelson said.
Paluka walked Yoder through various social networks and explained privacy settings on each. She walked away with some observations many parents can probably relate to in 2012.
“They're not gearing it to the parents, they're gearing it to the kids, and I am concerned that the safety measures aren't good enough,” Yoder said.
Nelson says safety measures are only half the battle. She says kids need to know that what they put out on social media stays out there forever.
“The number one thing I see is oversharing. If you're oversharing and sharing with the wrong people, there's a possibility that things are being tracked that maybe you don't want tracked.”
Nelson says if parents really want to keep track of their kids is to become familiar with the site.
“I really think it's probably a good idea for you to have your own page so you understand how it works, and how sharing works, and updating and all those things.”
She says kids could even have a way of sidestepping that. She believes there's only one guaranteed way to find out what your child is or isn't doing on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social network
“The only way to really keep track of what they're doing is to log in as them and see what their history is.”

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