By Amelia Santaniello

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Remember when the best way to keep your kids safe on the internet was to make sure the computer was in a common area? Now, kids can carry the Internet in their pockets and keep moving to social networks many parents don’t even know about. So, how can parents keep up?

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The newest app is called Snap-Chat, which allows users to send private messages that disappear in seconds. That makes it easy for sexting and hard for parents to track.

Parenting expert Dr. David Walsh thinks the disposable messages feed a false sense of security, because nothing on the Internet is truly private.

“If the head of the CIA can’t keep a secret on the Internet, then the rest of us don’t have a chance,” said Walsh.

Weber Shandwick’s VP of Interactive Greg Swan tracks social media trends. Even he can’t predict where kids will end up next, but he says parents should still try. It should be not to spy, but to understand the issues their kids face as new apps keep emerging.

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“There are definitely some apps parents are not going to find any reward in: poking each other or sending snap shot pictures of each other, but I encourage them to try it and figure it out,” said Swan.

That may be the key to security in this new media world: focus less on backseat driving, and more on teaching the rules of the road.

“How do we want to be perceived? What kind of values do we want to have? Respect, decency, honesty, integrity: those are the things that all of us parents want our kids to have and we need carry those values into the cyber world as well,” said Walsh.

Walsh says the key is having lots of conversations about social media and expectations, not just laying down rules.

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Swan added that he actually likes this new wave of disposable media because unless somebody saves a screen shot, those stupid pictures kids may be tempted to post won’t stay around to haunt them in the future.

Amelia Santaniello