News spread like wildfire this morning of two missing teen girls from Andover. The girls, who are neighbors, went missing about 7:45 p.m. Monday night and were found safe this morning with an unknown man at 11:20 a.m. in Burnsville. Especially alarming in today's story was that an initial investigation showed the two girls had been communicating with unknown adult men through social media and text messaging.

It's not hard for kids to find trouble on social media and electronic devices these days but I truly believe banning phones, social media, texting is NOT the answer. It's learning how to appropriately use the technology and also parental involvement.

Here are a few tips on monitoring phone/social media usage:

1. Put together a contract between you and your child on what is and isn't ok.

  • Talk about cyber bullying.
  • Who are they allowed to communicate with?
  • What hours is the phone to be put away?
  • Include that mom or dad can look at any/all texts and communication at any time.

2. Have a conversation about what networks they allowed on. {, KIK, Facebook, instagram....}

  • Require that if you are on that network, you are connected with them so you can see what they are posting/sharing.
  • Know their password/login.
  • Make their accounts private. {instagram, Facebook..}

3. If they mess up, don't freak out.

  • Plan on them messing up because this is new territory for all of us but rather than freaking out and getting mad when it happens, make it a learning experience and have a conversation about.

4. Talk about it, Talk about it.

  • One of the biggest mistakes I see parents making when it comes to social media/technology is NOT talking about it and pretending it's something they know nothing about. Learn about it, talk about it and be engaged with your child. Know what they are doing, what they are posting and who they are communicating with.

What other tips do you have for monitoring your kids social media usage?

{Speaking of social media, you can connect with ME on social media on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.}