Parents losing race to monitor kids’ social media activity

Description: Relieved your kids aren’t posting embarrassing messages and goofy self-portraits on Facebook? They’re probably doing it on Instagram and Snapchat instead.


Date: March 18, 2013


Educators say they have seen everything from kids using their mobile devices to circulate online videos of school drug searches to male students sharing nude pictures of their girlfriends. Most parents, they say, have no idea.

“What sex education used to be – it’s now the ‘technology talk’ we have to have with our kids,” said Rebecca Levey, a mother of 10-year-old twin daughters who runs a tween video review site called and blogs about technology and educations issues.

Eileen Patterson, a stay-at-home mom of eight kids in Burke, Va., said she used to consider herself fairly tech savvy and is frequently on Facebook, but was shocked to learn her kids could message their friends with just an iPod Touch. She counts nine wireless devices in her home and has taken to shutting off her home’s Wi-Fi after 9 p.m., but Patterson calls her attempt to keep tabs on her kids’ online activity “a war I’m slowly losing every day.”  READ REST OF STORY


Questions for discussion:

1. Do you feel parents should monitor their kids social media activity?  Why or Why Not

2.  What can parents do to secure their kid’s privacy and protection in the social media world?


23 thoughts on “Parents losing race to monitor kids’ social media activity

  1. Yuliya

    I feel that parents should monitor their children’s social media activity to an extent and depending on a couple of factors. I think it should begin with the parents educating their children about what is the acceptable use of social media and what potential dangers are associated with its use. By doing so parents can set their children up for success. Communication is a crucial element in the type of experience one’s kids will have with social media and its outcomes. Having an open-door policy with your kids about social media is key. The age of the child also is important. Monitoring a 16 year old’s Facebook is a little ridiculous but for someone who is much younger this may be important. I really do think it boils down to the type of relationship you will have with your kids. If they feel comfortable enough to tell you about problems stemming from using social media, they should have no problem using it. The key is setting them up for success.

  2. senura suduweli

    I believe that parent should monitor their kids social media up to certain age. But it should be within reason. They should be able to monitor who they are talking to and what they are looking at up to a certain age. When they reach a age such as 17 the parents should let the kids have a little bit of freedom. The way technology is set up these days kids will know how to get around the parents looking at their profiles and that is a problem. But parents should monitor their kids activity because the internet is a very diverse space and anybody can hack their information and take information. To protect their kids parent can use security programs to block certain pages and monitor their computer use. Kids should have little bit of freedom but just monitor what they do.

  3. Sean

    I feel that parents should monitor their children’s social media activity simply for protection. There are a lot of weird people in our world some of which would grasp at any chance to simply talk with a child. If parents were to be open with their children about what goes on in their daily lives children should be open the same way with what happens in their personal lives. Since children use social media so often, parents should also regulate the amount of visits or lack there of, for their children on these sites (but that is a different issue in itself).

    2. What can parents do to secure their kid’s privacy and protection in the social media world?
    I believe the only way to secure their kids privacy and protect them in the social media world would be to simply cut them off from it. Children don’t play outside anymore, they spend time on their iPhones and computers and video gaming consoles which all have access to some form of social media. The only other logical route for somewhat protecting their children would be to be open with them and encourage them to be open with you, and regularly check in on what your children are posting about and what their friends are posting about. This borderlines the crazy level though, as most kids are frightened of the fact of adding their mother on facebook.

  4. Oyinkan Bakinson

    This is a very hard question to answer. It is pretty much a tossup between yes and no. Yes because teaching kids about the dangers of the internet may not always be useful. After all I’m sure the parents of kids found with questionable things online did their hardest to teach their kids these lessons. On the other side though, I do not think I would like it very much if my parents had monitored my every move online. I would probably pull my hair out. It really depends on the child and how receptive they are to these lessons. In my opinion, there is no right or wrong answer. It is one of life’s many conundrums.
    All parents can do really is to teach and hammer the fact that the internet is a place that needs to be entered with care and navigated with caution. Mistakes made online can never be erased, well; unless the internet disappears which I high doubt will happen. Parents should ensure that privacy settings are turned on and that no sensitive information is shared in profile pages, but this should be done as unobtrusively as possible. Children are likely to rebel when they feel that their freedom is being tampered with.

  5. Matt Gough

    In the article, there is a quote of Markey saying “i believe that our children have a right to develop, to grow up and make mistakes”. I feel that making mistakes in order to grow and learn is a huge part of life and how we learn the important lessons their are in life but i feel that as parents it is their responsibility to help limit the how big the mistakes can be. Parents need to be upfront with what they expect from their online behaviour, teach their kids the importance of being a good person, then a large level of trust needs to come in. Parents cant control every aspect of their kids lives, the kids need to experiences on their own to grow, with a parent close by to help. A major thing parents need to monitor on social media is who the kids are talking to. You don’t always know who is on the other end of a certain chat, its important for parents to protect their children from a lot of the bad things that are online. Parents have every right to monitor what their kids are doing but not control what they are doing. With the example of the mom turning off the wifi at 9 pm, that is a great way to know that your kids are safe and aren’t doing things they shouldn’t late at night when they are all alone.

  6. Greg Goodwin

    Yes, of course Parents should monitor their kids social media activity. It’s not like they are invading their children’s privacy anymore than making sure their homework from school is done by checking their agenda or making sure their room is clean by taking a peek behind their door. Essentially it is encouraging them to keep their digital space clean as well. Parents should however should be careful not to publicly discipline or disapprove of potentially inappropriate content that their children have posted. It could be considered the equivalent of a “spanking” in public for kids that are just too old to be spanked. These matters should be dealt with similarly to how you would handle anything else: rules, regulation, consequences, and face to face discussion of the matter. They still live under your roof after all.

    Like the woman from the article suggested, it is wise to “friend” your kids on these social networking sites. However, this does not necessarily mean that parents will see everything that their kids posted. For instance, I have albums that anyone can see on Facebook, except my father. I’m grown and gone, but what about my 13 year old nephew? He can just as easily block his mom or dad from seeing the things he chooses to hide. They are still “friends” but it is easy to hide things still. It might be wise to have passwords to accounts until an appropriate age, and have a peek behind their virtual “bedroom door” and let them know that they have to clean their room or do their laundry.

  7. Jordan Gibson

    1. Do you feel parents should monitor their kids social media activity? Why or Why Not
    -This is a really tough one, but I do believe that parents should do their absolute best to monitor their kids’ social media activity. For me personally, I feel like social media sites should be treated the same as cell phones and even turning sixteen and obtaining your license. I think that parents should be up front with their kids and set rules and guidelines for their children to follow. Maybe you go ahead and say, alright kids no one is getting a cell phone until they are 14 so you can’t access a social media account until then either. I’m not sure how you would exactly carry out the boundaries for this, but I feel it would be a good start. It would give the kids something to look forward to as a privilege for when they are old enough to use the site, not just a standard right that they have.

    2. What can parents do to secure their kid’s privacy and protection in the social media world?
    -Although this may be time consuming, parents themselves could open up accounts online, be-friend their children and then be able to monitor their activities around the clock 24/7. Another method that I personally feel would be more effective would be to have your kids tell you their given passwords and usernames to each account so you can access them at any given moment and at any given time, that way if they are behaving inappropriately you would be able to catch them off guard. I think that this method would also put more pressure on the children as well to constantly be looking over their shoulders to check if mom and dad are going to access the account that day. Maybe if this were in affect kids would think twice about what they are about to post on the web for everyone to see.

  8. prashant malik

    I think, parents should monitor their children’s social media when they are young. I understand this is hard and can make the kids feel violated but there are too many things that can go wrong when children are using social media. Children do not realize how common cyber identity theft on Facebook is if you provide too many personal details about yourself. Parents need to help boost child safety by preventing the young ones from offering too much personal information in the context of their Facebook profile.

    The kind of freedom , the kids have these days have led to various scandals like a male students sharing nude pictures of their girlfriends or someone stalking someone else on Facebook or other social networking sites.I find that kids aren’t aware of the consequences when they abuse social media. There needs to be rules set in place and if the kids do not abide by those rules and regulations they should be punished.Cyber bullying is another issue that needs to be addressed when hoping to boost child safety online.

    There are a lot of ways in which parents can secure their kid’s privacy and protection in the social media world is by restricting them from having access to any mobile device or even computer without their supervision .Parents should also remind their kids not to talk to strangers online. Parents should educate their children about the various risks associated with the social networking sites.

  9. mark schmitz

    Parents should teach their kids good values early and hold their hands as far as their kids let them. Instead of spying on and controlling their every move, parents should just have many talks regarding current issue and concern facing kids. The more controlling parents are the more they push their kids away in terms of trust and respect. The key is to get to your kids before someone else does. If your kid wants to snort powder after school, there really isn’t anything you can do to stop them. Raise a good kid and they will be less likely to do unfavorable stuff behind your back. Media is a big part of the world; let it do its thing.
    If you feel inclined to protect your kids, buy them basic phones and have the family computers in common areas of the house so kids don’t feel temped to do weird things online.

  10. James Perry

    I feel that parents have every right to monitor their childrens social media activity. With the way that the world is going with technology and the access to almost everything at your fingertips, it is easy for children to get into trouble and not even know it. The monitoring wouldnt be strictly to keep an eye on your children but to those that would have access to our children via social media. I have heard to many stories of child luering through the internet and social media and it is sickening. Setting passwords and specific guidelines for your children to follow i think would be adequate enough. Just like anything there needs to be rules and if these rules and guidelines have been broken then there should deffinately be consequences. Cell phones, texting and all the social media is a good way for your children to keep in touch with friends and family, but there needs to be a moderate mix with real life and all there time doesnt need to be spent texting and on the computer.

  11. shaunagregus

    I think at least to a certain age, a child should be monitored while on social media. It’s the same thing as giving them a babysitter until a certain age. Children are simply not mature or educated enough to make certain decisions. With the state our society is in, everyone seems to be connecting at a younger age. Kids feel pressured to be involved in all these social media sites so their they can stay connected with their friends all the time. It becomes a kind of addiction and it’s easy for them to be influenced by either older kids or their peers to post things that will get attention. Cyber bullying is a huge issue and without the right monitoring kids can be exposed to very hateful acts that can end up causing serious issues. Once a child has been online long enough and proven that they can abide by some moral guidelines, they can start to be less monitored. But then again, it is also up to the parent. Some parents simply can’t be bothered to pay attention to what their kids are posting and exposed to online. There is no way to escape it. The only way to truly prevent children from the dangers of social media is to restrict the age limit on these sites and have harsher punishments for abuse. The important thing is to not blame the child in these cases. Social media has become a huge part of life and without its convenience, kids can feel left our and excluded from the things that their peers are posting and sharing with each other. It’s another trend that comes with its benefits and downfalls and we must try our best to help it remain a safe and friendly environment.

  12. Ida Draper

    I think that parents should be monitoring their children’s social media activity when they are younger. There comes an age when parent need to reduce the amount of monitoring on their child’s social media usages. When children are young they do need a level of supervision when they are learning about the world, as they grow up there needs to be less monitoring so the child can how to function without as much supervision from the parents. It is also up to the parents to ensure they educate their children about how to be safe on the internet, it is then up to the parents to trust their children that they will apply the knowledge they were given. When parents become over controlling and over monitoring of their children will either end with the children being over sheltered or have issues functioning is some social setting or the child will go out of the way to rebel against the parents’ wishes. There needs to be a balance between the monitoring of the social media activity and trusting the children to be safe on their own.

  13. Alex King

    Parents need to be able to monitor online activity their children are involved in. But today, a tech savvy kid can easily hide anything from their parents. Hell, an incognito window can hide 99% of what a kid may be doing on the internet. That all said, keeping tabs on a childs online activity is just basic decent parenting these days. Making sure the kids have a solid understanding of what they are doing, and the psychological and sociological ramifications of their actions are all things parents are tasked with to ensure their children are raised properly. Really catching this at the root of the problem stems directly to how the child is raised and how the influences in their lives affect them.

  14. Nicole Freeman

    I found this article stunning. I am in the dark ages regarding what kind of is out there. I thought Facebook was still the pinnacle of social media. I am a mom and have never “friended” my daughter simply because I believe in the privacy of the individual and I also believe that if you monitor your every child’s move they will feel distrusted. If a person (child) feels they are trusted, they will rise to the occasion and be trustworthy. I am not suggesting mistakes won’t happen…mistakes are inevitable but at least when the mistake has been discovered, the child will take responsibility for the transgression because they were given the opportunity to make that poor decision without being monitored in the first place. As far as what parents can do to protect their kids goes, my answer is “Talk to them about the risks and rewards of social media”. We have enough negative and positive reports on the consequences of “friending” people on line to have hours and hours of productive conversations with our pre-teenage kids. Kids pick up on uncomfortable nuances just as adults do (and they are probably even better at it) so talk about what makes a posting uncomfortable…it will help your child identify healthy and unhealthy acquaintances on-line.

  15. Kathie

    Parents should definitely monitor what their kids online. However, no matter how hard you try, there is no way to know everything that your child is doing online. Even if parents try their hardest to stop their kids from doing inappropriate things online, a lot of them will find a way. I’ve seen parents on talk shows- some who are just concerned about the privacy of their children and others who have caught their kids doing something inappropriate online like watching pornography and having inappropriate conversations with older men online (I believe one of the girls was only 12), and these parents have no idea how to stop their children from this behaviour because they always find a way around it. If the parents shut off the wifi, the kids can get online from other places. One girl’s parents took away the computer but she got online to chat with men through gaming consoles. People think that things like that would never happen to their children but if their children have access to the internet at all, the parents absolutely need to monitor what they’re doing online.

  16. Justeen Kolody

    I do think parents should at least have some sense of what is going on with their children. After all a main part of everyone’s lives is social media, and really it has somewhat become a tell all of what people are up to, or have done. If there is no involvement of parents something could be going on, like bullying for example. If its all through the internet and the parents don’t keep tabs something could happen that really affects them. The problem with parents getting involved in their kids social media lives is that the kids will become more and more creative in ways that they will “hide” what they are up to from the parents. This can become a prevalent issue when the kids get into their teens, and makes this a much more complex issue to work with. But as we see children that are younger and younger get smartphones and Wi-Fi accessible devices, who’s really to blame then the parents. Its clearly their choice to give a 6 year old a smart phone. It has passed the era of kids having cell phones/ devices for just emergencies, now they just have it to be like everyone else and not be ostracized by the other kids.

  17. Jessi Chrapko

    I definitely think parents should monitor their children’s social media activity. As much as possible anyway. Technology and social media problems seem to be largely within the teen/pre-teen group, and the age of kids being affected by this technology seems to be getting lower all the time. The kinds of consequences that can occur is quite troublesome, especially since kids and young teens often don’t fully understand them. Adults often don’t either! Social media and the internet in general has created another way for predators to access unsuspecting children and has become a tool for bullies. While it is impossible for parents to monitor everything their children do, they should be allowed to be their children’s “friends” on sites like Facebook and Instagram, and should limit use of wireless devices, especially for younger children. While it is often felt that this is invading privacy, children and teenagers need to realize that nothing on the internet or in text messages is truly private. The article made a good point on this, if kids don’t want their parents to see something, they should probably think twice about posting it.

    Parents should discuss consequences with their children, and show them stories of these instances. They need to be educated on effects sharing certain information can have on themselves and others, and in securing their information with passwords,etc to the best that they can.

  18. Nicole Clyne

    I don’t believe that parents should completely monitor their children on every social media site they are apart of. Parents can keep an eye on their children by being their friend on facebook or follow them on twitter, but i don’t feel that it is necessary. I think that the way to ensure that your child is not posting anything inappropriate or offensive etc is that you need to teach your children what is right and wrong not only in life but online as well. Kids need to know the consequences of their actions online. How it will effect them in the present, as well in the future because nothing online is truly deleted. Once your child knows how to behave online, you should be able to trust them and not have to monitor their every move. I agree with the statement that parents should start their children off early in learning about the internet and the responsibilities they have. If a child knows how to set up the privacy on their social media, then maybe they will use it.

  19. Jordan Slemp

    Parents should be monitoring their children on social media. Its the same concept as monitoring them while they’re with there friends. Its hard to see everything, but they should take an active approach to watch there children and keep them out of trouble. Since its so easy to block an individual from seeing your page, Facebook could implement something so a parent can see a child’s page. If they are friends or not.
    Other than monitoring the child’s use of the sites parents can educate their children. They need to inform them of what a safe password is, what is acceptable and unacceptable. Even inform them of the consequences of inappropriate actions online.

  20. Haley

    Well first of all parents should not have any reason to buy their child any sort of wireless device at such young ages. Now a days privileged children all seem to have an Ipod touch, Ipad, Iphone, PS3 all these devices that connect to the internet which therefore is connecting them to a wide range of possible inappropriate sites. All these children who do have access to this technology also have friends who have these devices and they talk to eachother about how to use them and the latest apps they can use whether that be harmless things like games or this so called snap chat, that could lead to disasters. I have never even heard of snap chat, or that other one they mentioned. But I do text and have facebook, however I’m old enough to know that “sexting” is probably not the best thing to do and ultimitly will have consequences. Like mentioned in the article, young children do not understand that these incriminating photos or texts can and will stay on the internet or in somebodies possession for longer then you will want. So I guess if you are going to buy your 13 year old child a Iphone instead of say a pedal bike then yes you should probably keep a close eye on what they are doing or using that phone for. However, you can not watch them 24/7 and they will do what they want in the end. So perhaps educate them thoroughly on the risks and consequences of stupid decisions or just don’t buy them a smart phone in the first place.

  21. Edward Agyapong

    Well in this day and age Yes parents should most definitely monitor their kid’s social media activities. In fact if it were only up to me kids should not even have access to a mobile device for communicating outside a parents reach. The kind of freedom kids of today have is what is causing all of these explicit picture being posted on public websites. Even with the advance ment in Technology, we cant fully blame everything on tech. An admirable quality of the kids today is their perseverance and investigative skills, but they seem to put that to the wrong use. Sharing odd, nude and explicit texts and pictures of each other with or without one anthers concern is a wrong way to exercise ones’ qualities. The Only way parents can secure their kid’s privacy in the social media world is to avoid them from using it without your permission and supervision. Restrict them from having access to any mobile device without your supervision and maybe that might work.

  22. Tayler Orban

    I feel that it is very important and parents should monitor their kids’ social media activity. I understand this is hard and can make the kids feel violated but there are too many things that can go wrong when children are using social media. I have heard of many stories about children and the abuse on social media or of the creepers finding pictures or information that leads them to these kids. I find that kids do not know the consequences nor do they get punished when they abuse social media. There needs to be rules set in place and if the kids do not abide by these rules then they should be punished. I relate it to playing with toys. If they can’t play nice then they shouldn’t get to play at all. This may seem like a far out analogy but it makes sense to me. There are too many kids who are getting away with stuff like this and then other kids see it and think that it is okay. They need to know that if they are not going to be nice to other people on these sites or respect other people then these privileges will be taken away. Most kids think that it is a right to use these sites when it is actually a privilege and the parent needs to discuss the dangers of disrespecting theirselves and others on social media sites.

  23. Ryan Lewis

    Parents should be able to monitor their social media, within reason, having them on facebook, that should be enough. They don’t need to follow everything and in most cases it won’t be disastrous not to follow them on everything.


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