The biggest concern for parents this year?
According to a recent survey, parents' top concerns for their children this school year is sexting, the practice of sending racy and inappropriate text and picture messages via cell phone.
Nearly half of the parents polled (49%) listed their top concern as sexting, followed by text messaging at 33%.
Here’s the sad part, 49% of respondents said their child had received an inappropriate text message or picture, and 21% reported their child has received a sext.
Keeping tabs on children is good for their safety, but the problem is, children often become more "savvy" with the device than their parents and use the phone as their own communication tool, sometimes inappropriately.
The author of Keep Your Family Safe Online offers these suggestions on protecting your children while online and using their cell phones.
No. 1: Get their passwords. Bowers said parents should have access to their children's Twitter and Facebook accounts, and should check these sites on a weekly basis.
No. 2: Take note of the device your child is using. Laptops and computers aren’t the outlet for kids to hop online. Parents should realize where and how their kids are using the Internet and monitor that device. Also, keep tabs on the monthly phone bill to see how often and with who your child is texting.
No. 3: 'Friend' your kids. Send 'Friend' requests to your children on Facebook and request to follow them on Twitter. This way, they know you are on these sites and you can see what they are up to, Bowers says.
No. 4: Consider software. Parental control software will do the "heavy lifting" for parents in terms of monitoring children's online activity.
No. 5: Talk to them. "Make sure there is a two-way communication to understand what is going on in their life," Bowers advises. "Let them know they can come to you."
It’s also a good idea to reminds kids that what they say online can have long-lasting repercussions, and that they shouldn’t post anything that might come back to bite them as an adult.