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How to help children avoid social media mistakes

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Reported by: Sharon Phillips
Updated: 1/04/2013 9:12 am Published: 1/03/2013 5:33 pm

What may have started with one tweet has now become an embarrassing problem for Tulsa Public Schools and a local family. A mom is suing the district saying that her daughter was held down and photographed while wearing only her underwear. This allegedly happened at a Booker T. Washington basketball game. The mom of the victim is also suing the two girls who reportedly took the photo, as well as Twitter.

The lawsuit says that the social media giant should have monitored its website more closely to prevent the publication of the photographs of minors. FOX23 did some digging and found several tools that can help parents protect their children from making a big mistake.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are all sites that allow an instant connection at your fingertips, but they can also turn teen pranks and bullying into jail time.

Social media expert, Mandy Vavrinak says it’s vital that parents make this clear to their children before they use social media.

"As a parent you can't start that conversation to early,” she says.

Mandy says it’s important for teens to understand that what may seem like a bad joke could be crime if they go too far.

A Union high school student who tweeted photos of a disabled boy using the bathroom was nearly charged with felony crimes this fall. Right now, there’s not a clear tool to protect your child from posting an inappropriate picture online.

"You can restrict their Internet usage and certain amounts of access, but if they have the access and the camera the only way to prevent them from taking an inappropriate action is to as a parent instill in them the values that would prevent that,” says Mandy.

Here are some tools that you can arm yourself with. Verizon offers a tool called parental controls and it can help parents monitor the phone usage of their child. It also allows monitoring through GPS so you can find the phone at any time.

Google offers an app called Mobile Minder. It allows you to know where your child is, when they have arrived, see and delete photos and you can know how long they spend on websites and apps.

Area school districts like Broken Arrow do have a social media policy when it comes to teachers and students. Teachers are not allowed to have a private conversation online or in a text with a student. It must be public.

The attorney for the mother of the girl who was photographed says the tweet amounts to “child porn.” No charges have been filed as of yet. We reached out to Tulsa Public Schools. The district is aware of the situation, but cannot comment on pending litigation.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

Mayor Maynot - 1/4/2013 3:11 AM
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Waaaaal when I wuz a youngun ifn yew got caught doin sumpthin rwong thenn toooo th shed. Shed them britches and git yew a little hickory tea. 'twas no laughing matter when it got down to tea time old chap. One lump or two. Nowadays they screw up on purpose jest so they kin visit their pals in juvie hall have an academic break make me president and I'll guarantee a paddle for every house and a pack of wild youngins who may be curious about tippin the neighbors outhouse but that natural fear of having a razor strop warmin up their little tail feathers till they burn off might just make em think twice aforn they steal the Jonses piglett.
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