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Keep Your Child Safe While Giving Them Free Range

Jessica Leonhardt aka Jesse Slaughter, a victim of cyberbullying.


(NYC/CBS) We've all seen the viral videos -- from "Jesse Slaughter," the foul mouthed 11-year old to "David After Dentist," who was loopy after being put under to get a tooth pulled.

Whether the video sheds a positive or negative light, the internet has made it possible to grab millions of people's attention within a matter of days.

Teens today are more active online than ever. From Facebook and Twitter accounts to posting on sites like Youtube and FormSpring, the activity and conversations that teens have are not only easily hidden from their parents--they're permanent on the internet.

Cyberbullying has become an epidemic in the recent years. Unrelenting and often anonymous taunting has become unbearable, and in a few cases, has led some teens to commit suicide.

Many parents are unaware of what their children may be doing online -- or even when monitoring use -- teens find a way around it by creating multiple profiles or using their phone connection to access the internet.

Talk to your child about the potential risks they are taking when they are uploading photos, updating statuses, and posting videos. Many teens do not understand that these actions cannot be undone. Even if a post were to be deleted or removed from the site, it may be too late.

Hundreds -- even thousands -- of viewers may have seen it already, and hypertext spreads like wildfire.

Allow your child the freedom of using the internet, but have open ended, honest, conversations about what they may be experiencing at school. Notice if they begin to act differently at home or if they seem anxious or stressed after getting off the computer.

Don't allow your child to keep a personal computer in their room. Internet access is great, as long as it is in a common area in the house. Keep the family computer in the living room or kitchen, so in case anything suspicious is happening, you can talk to your child about it right away.

Remove data plans from your child's cell phone, so that they can't access internet from a mobile device, and if they do, the phone company will alert you.

Stay involved in their life, but don't spy on them. Creating an online profile of your own can only cause issues, and teens are tech-savvy, so your effort won't go unnoticed. Instead of trying to do detective work, just keep the lines of communication open. Nothing leads to teasing more than a parent who gets too involved in their child's social life.