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If you think you're hip to your children's online social habits because you know all about Facebook and Twitter, you've got it all wrong.

Tweens and teens are increasingly leaving these sites in favor of new apps that offer richer features and a safe haven from watchful parents.

For some parents, this might be more of a trick than a treat because of the greater potential for cyberbullying, online harassment and other inappropriate activity, which can fly under the radar if you're not actively monitoring these newer sites.

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This may be easy to understand, since the study found that 70% of teens have been friended on Facebook by their parents.

According to a recent study by Piper Jaffray, "the popularity of Facebook is waning among teens with 23% citing it as the most important, down from 33% six months ago and 42% a year ago." As more parents embrace Facebook, they're driving teens and tweens away as they look for other, more secretive venues that won't be subjected to the same level of parental scrutiny.

For parents, this creates a tricky situation: How can you keep track of your kids' online activity when you don't even know what sites they're using and it's hard to keep up with all the startup apps that roll out?

It is important for parents to talk openly with their kids about these apps and the risks they carry.

Teens in our focus group explained the way digital communication platforms – social media as well as texting – can enhance and expand on in-person meetings.

One high school girl noted: “I feel like it helps to develop a relationship because even if you meet someone in person, you can’t see them all the time or talk to them all the time to get to know them, so you text them or message them to get to know them better.”“My boyfriend isn’t shy … And it gets easier for him to tell me everything in person, but when we’re …

when I’m in person with him, like, it’s harder for me to tell him what I’m feeling.

So like I’ll think about it when we’re together, and then like afterwards I’ll probably text him like what I was feeling and tell him my problems.”“I think texting kind of makes you feel closer because – boys are more shy. my boyfriend, he doesn’t like to express himself like that.

Another option is to restrict your child's access to these apps -- both the i Phone and Android devices have parental settings that you can use to block certain types of activity.


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