Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Parenting

Select An Article
Font Size

Should You Watch Over Your Tween Online?

How to walk the fine line between giving them personal space and keeping them safe.
WebMD Magazine
Reviewed by Ari Brown, MD

In the early 1980s, in the evening after dinner, you could often find my 11-year-old self looking for privacy under my father's desk -- the looped phone cord stretched taut -- talking to one of my girlfriends, Jenny, Amy, or Caitlin.

What we talked about -- crushes, clothes, classes -- is much like what our daughters are "talking" about today. But they're doing it with their fingers as they engage in text messaging, IMs, taking and sending photos, and online chatting. And, like many parents I know, I often feel intimidated by these tools, even a touch afraid. Who might be trying to communicate with my kid? Will my children's private texts and emails be forwarded? How exactly is IM used?

WebMD the Magazine Now Available Online

The enormous popularity of WebMD the Magazine – previously only read in your doctor's office – is why we're proud to announce the release of WebMD the Magazine Digital Edition.

In each edition, you will get
these features:
  • Expert beauty tips
  • Healthy recipes
  • Celebrity health stories
  • And much more!

Nancy Willard, director of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use, says helping young people navigate these new social landscapes requires a rational head and engaged parenting. Willard is the author of Cyber-Safe Kids, Cyber-Savvy Teens: Helping Young People Learn to Use the Internet Safely and Responsibly. The good news is she believes the risk of predators and other dangers is wildly overestimated in the public's imagination.

Teaching Your Kids Online Values

While it is true that many of today’s parents are "technological immigrants" -- accommodating but not fully at home with new communication methods -- Willard says the core values parents strive to teach children about social interactions remain the same: consideration, respect, and kindness.

Staying involved in your tween's communications is step one, Willard says. "If your daughter is texting, you need to be one of the people she's texting," she says. By being in the mix, you are better situated to know whom your kids are communicating with and what they're communicating about. And you will be more likely to be aware of a bullying text or an intrusive IM.

"It's all about teachable moments," Willard says. Help your children learn how to handle a bully's email, just as you would offer them strategies for dealing with a bully on the school bus.

Another important element is to avoid overreacting if something goes wrong – for instance, if your child forwards a gossipy email or posts an inappropriate picture. "Your child needs to know that he or she can come to you and you're going to work together to solve problems," Willard says.

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Girl holding up card with BMI written
Is your child at a healthy weight?
toddler climbing
What happens in your child’s second year.
father and son with laundry basket
Get your kids to help around the house.
boy frowning at brocolli
Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
mother and daughter talking
child brushing his teeth
Sipping hot tea
Young woman holding lip at dentists office
Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
rl with friends
tissue box
Child with adhd