Do You Know What Your Child is Doing At 2 AM?

I hope s/he is sleeping, but there’s a chance that your teen is online.

Whether you like it, or not, whether you want your kids on social media, or not, the ‘new’ way of communicating is through social media.

Don’t believe me?

I have three teens (and a preteen) ages 19,17 & 15.

  • My teens are active on Google classroom, communicating with their teachers; a requirement by the school.
  • My teens get group text messages from their high school coach about practice times, team travel and games.
  • My teens communicate with their overseas cousins via social media.
  • My teens communicate with their boss (summer job) via text messages.

Most of their scheduling and social life gets planned using social media.

The Tragic Story of Nicole Lovell Hits Close To Home If You Are the Parent of a Teenager!

By now you’ve heard the story of 13 year old Nicole Lovell of VA who snuck out of the house to meet an 18 year old she met online, via an app names Kik. Tragically, she was killed, only hours after meeting up with this college student. The whole story isn’t quite clear, yet, but it seems she was about to expose their ‘inappropriate relationship’ to the outside world. She was killed before that happened. Two college students have been arrested and charged with her murder.

The gut reaction of many parents, including myself, is to take away my teens’ phones, tablets and computer rights.

I just want to put them in a bubble…to never get hurt.

But that WOULD hurt them.

There Has To be Another Way To Keep Teens Safe Online!

In light of what happened in VA with Nicole Lovell, I was asked to talk about social media and keeping teens safe online by Brandon Herring of WBTW News 13 on Thursday February 4, 2016. Here is the interview. If you want to read the full story, click here.

Who Are We To Hinder Our Teens’ Communication?

Why would you want to isolate your teen?

That’s what you would do if you were to take away their phone, their iPad or computer for fear of safety or as punishment.

There is a better way to keep your child safe.

It includes some tough love, hard work on your end, and vigilance.

What am I talking about?


USe ECHO to help keep your kids safe online. Educate. Communicate. Help. Observe.

Educate. Communicate. Help. Observe.

E – Educate (yourself and your teen)
C – Communicate (keep the lines of communication open)
H – Help (tell your teen to come to you when needed)
O – Observe (changes in their behavior)

As mentioned in the TV interview, I also wrote 10 social media posting rules parents should teach their kids to start that conversation with your (pre)teens!

Here they are, explained!

This could be the first step in educating your child about the dangers of social media.

I also advocate using real life examples – like the Nicolle Lovell story – to driver home the point. Why should your teen NOT learn from other people’s unfortunate mistakes?

Let’s recap E-C-H-O and how to best use this acronym

Educate Yourself About Social Media

  • Search online for articles about teenagers and social media and read and learn. [Check the dates on the articles to make sure they are recent, as social media changes quickly!]
  • Ask another teen to show you their phone and latest apps.
  • Talk to other parents of teens and swap experiences.
  • Try out some of the apps and then talk to your own teen about how they communicate.

Educate Your Child About Social Media

  • Use the above ’10 posting rules’ to set some boundaries.
  • Talk about real-life mistakes other kids and teens have made.
  • Set up a system to monitor your child and let them know you are doing just that.
  • Demand that your child’s school helps in educating kids about social media use.

Communicate With Your Child About Life

  • Talk to your child about school, friends and sports at the dinner table.
  • Ask open-ended questions so an answer beyond ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is warranted.
  • Know who your child’s friends are.
  • Take an interest in their hobbies and interests.

Help Is Always Offered

  • Tell your child if they get in trouble online, you will help them and stand by their side.
  • Tell your child that if a friend is in trouble online, to tell you or another adult.
  • Teach your child to report inappropriate images and posts, and to never, ever share them.

Observe Your Child’s Behavior and Look For Changes

Signs of possible online trouble

  • Falling grades
  • Closing down the computer in your presence
  • Not wanting to let you look at their phone
  • Sleep deprivation signs (dark circles under the eyes, falling asleep at odd times)
  • Social isolation
  • Refusal to communicate with you
  • Skittishness
  • Changed passwords or suddenly deleted accounts

An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure

If, or when, you observe negative changes in your child’s behavior, make communication a priority!

Find out what is happening and offer to help them fix whatever it is that’s happening.


Parenting Teens Has Never Been Easy – Social Media Complicates It!

I wish you much success on this journey.

Please know you are not alone.

Love your children, talk to your children and if you need more advice like this, check out Ten To Twenty Parenting

“Ten to Twenty Parenting is the ultimate site and resource for the parents of teens and tweens. You’ll find advice, humor, insight about parenting and LIFE in general.”

As a parent of four kids ‘Ten To Twenty’ I write for this publication occasionally!

Check it out!