TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Like many communication tools, social media is used very differently by teens than adults. A Tampa-area mother is appealing to schools to educate parents on the social media platforms that their children are using.
Nicole Stone has the passwords to her 14-year-old’s social media accounts: Snapchat, TextFree, Instagram, YouTube and Vine.
“I put her stuff on private, but I’ve also caught her taking it off of private,” Nicole says.
She started using an app called Watch Dog to monitor her daughter’s activity online. But, she says that the app didn’t stop strangers from communicating with her child.
“I don’t know if all children do this, but her and a group of her friends do group chats, and they do multiple friends and friends of friends,” says Nicole. “I found out that through the chats she was talking to somebody she physically has never met before.”
Nicole’s response was to take the phone away. But, that’s a decision that she struggles with.
“What do you do? You allow them to be socially awkward because they don’t know what’s going on with everybody else? This controls them, their social world. It’s very bizarre. Something I’m so not used to.”
Nicole wishes her daughter’s school taught classes to parents on social media, although she admits the platforms are constantly changing and evolving. For now, this mom – who up until recently didn’t even use Facebook – is teaching herself how to use every platform, with the goal of keeping her daughter safe.
“You have to be – you 100% have to be,” says Nicole. “If you’re not, you’re basically letting the world be exposed to your child, not your child being exposed to the world.”
News Channel 8 contacted the Hillsborough County school system, and found out that one-hour cyber security classes are offered to parents. It’s up to each school to schedule the class, and to let parents know when it’s being held.
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