Keeping tabs on your child’s digital hangouts (part 1) – Where are they?

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Cyber Safety for Kids and Families with Joanna and Jodie on 103.9FM The Fish

Christi Benz, mother of four in Granite Bay, California, finds SnapChat very useful to stay in touch with her teenage and young adult children.

Christi Benz, mother of four in Granite Bay, California, finds SnapChat very useful to stay in touch with her teenage and young adult children.

New social media sites and messaging apps are popping up just about every day, and kids wind up flocking to these  apps in order to form their own communities, separate from the Facebook network. Every two to three years it seems breeds a new digital generation tied to the latest and greatest apps.

How can parents keep up?

Current trending

First of all it helps to accept the fact that texting and social media apps are very dynamic. Facebook is not the place to be as that network has become the established adult and business place, and young folks are forming heir own networks.

Sites like, Instragram, Twitter, and Tumblr are popular among youth.

Other instant messaging and photo sharing apps like SnapChat, Kik, and What’s App? Line, Vine are increasingly popular as kids are gravitating to apps that allow texting in a more private, less public way; they form small on-line groups wherein they can maintain communications with a greater sense of privacy, and  often where mom isn’t watching (because she’s not included in that particular micro network).

SnapChat involves sharing quick photos with or without text, and the content disappears; it is erased after a designated period of time from one to ten seconds determined by the user. See the demonstration in the video below:

The other thing trending with youth is the use of multiple apps.  There is not necessarily a conformity.  They may use a blend of apps including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and SnapChat, depending upon the group and/or the nature of the message.

Mainly parents need to know that it is dynamic, and it is more important than ever to maintain open communication with your child about their cyber communications channels and the nature of the conversations they are having on line.


Can be a great way to strengthen your relationship with your child, especially when you and your child are communicating using their preferred channel.  It is lso an opportunity to teach children to be discerning about why and when to use a communication app.

Christi Benz is a mom of four in Granite Bay, California. Three of her children are away from home at college, and one teenager in high school is at home. She finds SnapChat to be very useful for maintaining open communication about things that are happening. “It is a quick and fun way to check in and stay in touch about what is going on,” she said. “It is easy to have conversations, very short and it feels more private than posting something on a Facebook page.”

Concerns –Lack of visibility and oversight

When parents are not monitoring communications and providing guidance on the basics of being civil, the children are at risk of engaging in a bully dynamic in their on line communities. The greatest danger for children using technology is privacy. An example is how teens use of, which is anonymous and inspires bullying so intense it can result in suicide.

NEXT WEEK PART II: Keeping tabs on your children’s digital hangouts (part 2) – tracking your child’s on line presence without smothering them.


Joanna Jullien (Photo: Christi Benz)

Joanna Jullien
(Photo: Christi Benz)

Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.



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About Joanna Jullien

Joanna Jullien

Joanna ( and her husband have raised two sons in Roseville, CA. She has a degree from U.C. Berkeley in Social Anthropology (corporate culture). Her honors thesis was awarded the Kroeber Prize and funding from National Science Foundation grant. Joanna writes to help parents with the modern-day leadership challenges of raising children. She is a contributing writer for The Granite Bay View, the Press Tribune, the Sacramento Examiner, and editor of Banana Moments.