Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The "stranger danger" ideas of the past are changing as kids spend more time on social media talking to people they may not know. Now that the school year is almost over, kids will have even more time to surf the internet.
"Social media is a huge issue and it's one that pediatricians are paying lots of attention to now," said Deborah Greenhouse, a pediatrician and fellow at the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Greenhouse says the issue is a lot of the time parents don't know much about social media.
"I'll be the first one to tell you, my kids know more than me," Greenhouse said.
Joe Ryan with the Internet Crimes Against children Taskforce in the South Carolina Attorney General's office says, that's okay.
"Sit down with them and say, 'show me what you're doing, walk me through what you're doing, what is this picture you're posting, what is this game you're playing,'" Ryan said.
Ryan says you should know every app they use and what it does because there could be safety issues they may not consider.
"They don't think about the fact that maybe the shirt they're wearing in the video says what school they go to on it," Ryan said, "that information in the hands of an online predator can become very important."
Ryan says most importantly, you want your child to feel that they can come to you about their social media.
"We never want to encourage an environment where children need to hide their activities from their parents," Ryan said. "Be willing to possibly put consequences on the backburner."
Greenhouse also gave some insight into when a child can be left home alone.
"There really is no one set age that a child can safely be left home alone," Greenhouse said.
Greenhouse says it ultimately depends on the maturity and comfort the child feels, but that there are some guidelines parents can follow.
"Eleven's, Twelve's, probably not more than 30 minutes to an hour," Greenhouse said.
Greenhouse says these kids must have a way to contact an adult at all times. This may mean having access to a cell phone given that many homes no longer have landlines.
"You get above that, 13's and 14's," Greenhouse said, "they could probably stay at home for a couple hours with some good limits on what they should or should not be doing."
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