Parents can be in denial about the secret digital lives many teens are leading and the array of consequences that can result.


  • Meeting strangers, some of them adults, on a variety of apps
  • Taking risqué photos in disguised vault apps, then trading the photos like baseball cards
  • Having spare “burner” phones to avoid parental monitoring
  • Sharing passwords with friends who can post on their accounts when privileges are taken away

Teens are pushing digital boundaries and it is becoming more common for kids to live online lives that are all but invisible to parents according to tech experts. A 2016 Pew Research Center survey found that only about half the parents said they had ever checked their children’s phone calls and text messages or even friended their kids on social media.

Pam Wisniewski, a computer-science professor at University of Central Florida, suggests a gradual loosening of the strings as teens prove they can be trusted. She proposes that parents offer their children the “Golden Ticket” – no punishment when they come to them about mistakes they’ve made online or help they need with social media problems.