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Parents can use networking to detect harmful behavior

SONYA COLBERG Published: August 23, 2009

/> Oklahoma children typically start experimenting with drugs and alcohol in seventh grade. So it’s wise for parents to begin talking about drugs and alcohol before then, she said.

"Technology and social media can be a godsend and a curse,” said Corrine Gregory, founder of Bellevue, Washington-based Social Smarts.

Parents should add their teens to their own Facebook page, Gregory said. She said many people post uplifting messages on social networks that their teens might read.

"The parents also need to have specific consequences if their family expectations are broken,” said Jackie Landler, clinical director with A Chance to Change. "Keeping kids accountable for their choices and behavior is the only way I know to provide external motivation to hopefully counter the internal motivation to use what feels good.”

Tough love
Gregory said their kids have to share their e-mail user ID and password with her and their dad. The parents don’t randomly snoop on their children’s accounts. But they do have the right to check the accounts should they suspect something is awry. If the children ever use anonymous e-mail to hide something, their computer access is revoked, Gregory said.

"Ultimately if a teen wants to do something risky and dangerous, they find ways to do it,” she said. "But we as parents can do everything we can to try to help them make good choices and protect them as much as is humanly possible.”