NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – After two Tennessee teen girls ran away from home with older male adults they had been communicating with via social media and text messages, psychologists are advising how much parents should be monitoring their teens.
Fifty-year-old Tad Cummins reportedly used Instagram and other social media sites to communicate with student 15 year-old Elizabeth Thomas before the two went missing for more than a month.
Police say 28-year-old Daniel Clark communicated with 15-year-old Trinity Quinn through text messages before running off together and then allegedly killing a west Nashville gas station clerk.
Child psychologist Dr. Brett Shapiro offers important advice for parents. He says set Internet and social media guidelines for your teenager.
“I think there needs to be more, like I said before, a designated time where children can get on and after that time, the games are taken away. In a sense it is setting up a schedule,” said Dr. Shapiro.
Designating specific social media times for your household and creating a routine will help you monitor your teenager’s online activity.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that more than 22 percent of teenagers log onto their favorite social media sites more than 10 times per day.
Dr. Shapiro says if your teenager shows resistance, use the opportunity to create an open dialog.
“Having that communication, that understanding of why games are taken away, why it is time for homework, why things are happening. I think that needs to be discussed with kids and you can to that as early as 5, 6, 7,” said Dr. Shapiro.
He offered this additional advice.
“I think one of the most important things that would be important is to have meetings, Sunday evening meetings, discussions about how you are doing? What is going on?,” said Dr. Shapiro.
Psychologist Dr. Daniel Goldstein also works with teenagers.
He encourages parents to have a dialog with their teenagers about the topic of long-term consequences.
“Not in a shaming way, but in a logical way. Matter of fact way, if you make these choices you will have these consequences. That is the way humans learn,” said Dr. Goldstein.