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Teens and Social Media: Missouri Survey Probes Parents' Views

Social media has revolutionized the way millions of people share information about themselves. Yet the run-away popularity of platforms like Facebook and Twitter also comes with certain risks.

For example, teens are often inclined to post suggestive photos or engage in what to some people might seem to be inappropriate chats. Laws struggle to keep up with the new online reality, however, and the result can potentially be criminal charges against adults who interact through electronic media with these teens.

Interestingly, a recent survey of the parents of teens conducted by Missouri researchers indicates that it's time to get a more balanced perspective on the risks associated with the Internet.

The survey, performed nationally by researchers at Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, found that most parents believe social media use has many benefits for their children. Indeed, a remarkable 83 percent of parents believe the benefits outweigh or at least balance out the risks.

The benefits, by the very nature of the media, include being more socially connected to other people. The risks, such as improper sexual solicitation or cyberbullying, are real, but they are by no means the online norm.

So what do parents say about the right age for a child to go on Facebook? More than 7 in 10 of the parents surveyed said 13 is about right, as long as the child seems mature enough.

Of course, sometimes parents don't set sufficient guidelines. Or even if they do, sometimes kids disregard them. And when that happens, kids can get in trouble with explicit photo-sharing or questionable conversations.

Source: "Social media: Parents unconcerned by Facebook, Twitter," Kansas City Star / Christian Science Monitor, Dawn Bormann, 8-21-12

Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post. To learn more about our practice, please visit our Missouri sex crimes defense page.

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