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Parents, Social Media Experts Weigh In on Keeping Kids Safe Online

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Thirteen-year-olds use social media to post, tweet, share, friend, block and unfriend, but vast amounts of time are spent "lurking," reading the never-ending stream of the people they follow.

FOX40 spoke with kids who constantly check feeds from Instagram, Kik, Musicly and apps with geo-locaters. Some of these girls admit they've tried nearly every trending app and that can lead to trouble.

"Snapchat is bad. You can get random snaps from other people as well and maybe bad pictures they can send to you," said 13-year-old Emily Taylor.

One picture in one post could make or break a teen's image and, at 13, social media image is everything. And being left out is the worst thing.

"I feel non-social," 13-year-old Lincoln Taylor told FOX40. "I just take naps when I don't have my phone."

Likes, comments, retweets and favorites add up to positive reinforcement and popularity and the pressure to be perfect, but researchers say most parents can be in the dark about their social media star and vulnerable kids who don't have the friends and fans may feel insecure in their social world.

"It's a part of their DNA. So, when we have conversations with kids about responsibility, we have to remember that it's not coming from our perspective of parents of what it means to us," social media expert Thomas Dodson said. "We have to put ourselves in the shoes of these kids and understand what it means to them and how important it is."

According to the Pew Research Center, 92 percent of teens say they go online daily, 48 percent of parents say they know the password to their teen's email account and 35 percent know the password to at least one of their child's social media accounts.

The results of the study suggest parents need to be there on and offline.

"The rule at out house is I can pick it up anytime. I know the passwords," mother Christine Taylor said.

But it is still hard for even the most vigilant parents to detect the content that some teens find most hurtful.

"It takes the personal element out. It's a lot easier to say things you are feeling without the uncomfortableness of being face to face," Christine Taylor said.

"The best parental monitoring app out there is you -- mom and dad," Dodson said."Go to your child and say, 'You didn't do anything wrong. You're not in trouble. I screwed up because I gave you this device. I gave you this laptop and I didn't set you up for success.'"

"If you're going to just try to discourage it. You're automatically cutting off that trust," said Matt Beaudreau with Adventure Christian School in Roseville. "It is going to happen. It is a part of our society now so let's embrace it and be positive about it and proactive."

Being a tween in America is a lot tougher than ever, and the rules are changing faster than you can click.

"You, like, second guess everyone," 13-year-old Emerson Taylor said. "Second guess what you're doing."