Inappropriate online posts

I cringe every time I log into my Facebook account and see the recent scandalous photo posted by a 16-year-old acquaintance. I worked with this girl in a previous ward and her Facebook photos are a constant round of cleavage, booty shots and provocative poses.

I always wonder what I would feel if I was her mother and saw these photos on the Internet. Then I wonder why in the world her parents still let her have a Facebook account. They know what she’s posting because they are right there on her friend list watching her titillating status updates pop up on their homepage.

Are parents too afraid of offending their teens so they let them do whatever they want online, or are parents just clueless about what their kids are doing?

I’ve posted before about spying on your kids online, and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. The former teenager part of me hates the thought of a parent patrolling through personal emails. The mother part of me thinks it’s every parent’s right and responsibility to know what her kids are saying and posting online.

I’d even go so far as to say it’s within a parent’s rights to have the passwords and open-ended access to any online accounts a child has. One program that has come out to help parents is SafetyWeb, which monitors your child’s online life including photos, friends, profiles and anything else that is public. It also provides a cellphone service to monitor calls and texts for red flags.

Even if you think monitoring your kids is overboard, the company’s site has some great resources to help parents know the danger signs of cyber bullying, sexting or posting inappropriate information publicly.

At some point, though, I do think it’s impossible for parents to know what their child is doing online all the time. There is something to be said for building a relationship of trust where a parent doesn’t need passwords to know her child is safe online. But how do you strike a balance between trusting and protecting your child?

What kind of monitoring do you do of your children’s online lives? Have you ever been shocked by something your child posted online?

Erin Stewart is a regular blogger for Deseret News. From stretch marks to the latest news for moms, Stewart discusses it all while her 4-year-old daughter crams Mr. Potato Head pieces in her little sister’s nose.

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