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SALT LAKE CITY -- Social media analysts say it's a good idea for parents to become their child's "friend" on sites like Facebook so they can keep an eye on what their kid is saying. But some parents make mistakes after "friending" their child.
When a parent becomes online friends with their kid, it's usually so they can pay attention to what the child is doing online. Social media author Jesse Stay says they may not be paying close enough attention.
Every status update, every picture, every email sent back and forth -- Stay says parents need to see all of it.
It's a great opportunity for you as a parent to understand the relationships your kid is having.
"If you think about it, it's really a great opportunity for you as a parent to understand the relationships your kid is having," he says.
Stay says there are other mistakes parents sometimes make.
Not guarding the password
Some tech analysts say it's important for someone to know the password their child uses to log on to social media sites. But, is that enough? These passwords can always be changed.
Stay says it may be safer if the parents are the only ones who know it. The kid would have to ask their parent's permission to log on, but the password can't be changed without mom or dad knowing about it.
Letting kids on when they're too young
There are different age requirement for each social media site. For Facebook, it's 13. For Google+, it's 18. Stay says these restrictions are there for a reason.
"Many parents are letting kids as young as 7, 8 and 9 years old get on these social networking sites because their friends are pressuring them," Stay said.
Younger kids probably don't understand the pitfalls they can fall into online. They could easily become victims of things like phishing scams because they're not as savvy as older teens or adults.
Not preparing their kids for the ugly side of social media
There's one concept that Stay says many teens don't understand, specifically, that everything they post can come back to haunt them. Kids can be in for a rude awakening when they find out their personal pictures have been used to embarrass them.
"They can't trust their friends. Their friends are likely to try to embarrass them. They really can't trust anyone but you," he said.
Stay recommends parents have "the talk" about social media with their kids before letting them sign up for anything. Illustrate how every word they say and every picture they post can be spread to anyone anywhere in the world.
Parents like to show other parents pictures that we think are cute.
"Aw, here's little Billy playing ‘tea party' with his baby sister. Look at his tiara."
"Oh, look, here's little Susie learning how to use the potty. Isn't that adorable?"
"Check this out. Here's our Jimmy sitting on Santa's lap. See how he's screaming with fear?"
These pictures may be very cute. But they also could be very embarrassing.
"We've got to think of both our kids as well as our family around us and their friends in how each person is going to react to what you're sharing," Stay explained.
Stay says it may be overbearing if we comment on everything our kids say, and it may be especially humiliating if we pass out personal information our kids may not want others to know.