With the abundance of teens and children using smartphones and tablets more than ever, how they use these devices can cause safety concerns. Attorney David Greene from Greene & Phillips joined us to discuss keeping kids safe online.

The following questions and answers were provided by Greene & Phillips:

What specifically about these social media apps is dangerous?

One big danger is when teens send pictures of themselves of a sexual nature. Let’s say we have a young man named Tom and his girlfriend Tina sends him a lewd photograph through snapchat. As soon as he sees the picture he takes a screenshot. He then forwards that screenshot on to all his buddies and soon the whole school has seen these sensitive pictures. In the moment, teens are not thinking of the consequences of their actions and how this might affect them long-term.

How big is this problem?

More than half of teens report to being pressured to sext. And research from The National Campaign finds that 38% of teen girls and 39% of teen boys have received sexually suggestive images through text and email originally intended for someone else.

What can parents do to help prevent this problem?

Parents need to have very frank conversations with their kids about the dangers of sexting. With my own kids, I’ve had many conversations with them about this. They know that the risk is just too great. Mistakes that kids make online can follow them for their entire lives.

What age should you be having these conversations with your children?

It’s a conversation you need to have many times over the course of their adolescence, but definitely in conjunction with their first device with social media capabilities. Check their devices and their security settings regularly as well.

From a legal perspective, can parents be held responsible for the the actions of their kids?

There are certain circumstances where a kid may have a sexually explicit photo of a minor on their phone that’s backed up to a shared drive or stored on Apple’s iCloud. At that moment, the parents are in possession of child pornography.

If anyone has any further questions, how can they get in touch with you?

Simply come by our office anytime at 51 North Florida Street, or call 300-2000.


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