US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy speaks with CNN.
US Surgeon General says 13 is too young to join social media. Hear why
01:28 - Source: CNN

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CNN  — 

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you’ll know I wear a lot of hats: romance author, parent of funny tweenagers, part-time teacher, amateur homesteader, grumbling celiac and the wife of a seriously outdoorsy guy.

Because I’m an author with a major publisher in today’s competitive market, I’ve been tasked with stepping up my social media brand: participation, creation and all. The more transparent and likable I am online, the better my books sell. Therefore, to social media I go.

It’s rare to find someone with no social media presence these days, but there’s a marked difference between posting a few pictures for family and friends and actively creating social media content as part of your daily life.

With a whopping 95% of teens polled having access to smartphones (and 98% of teens over 15), according to an August Pew Research Center survey on teens, social media and technology, it doesn’t look like social media platforms are going away anytime soon.

Not only are they key social tools, but they also allow teens to feel more a part of things in their communities. Many teens like being online, according to a November Pew Research Center survey on teen life on social media. Eighty percent of the teens surveyed felt more connected to what is happening in their friends’ lives, while 71% felt social media allows them to showcase their creativity.

Many teenagers say what they see on social media helps them feel more connected to their peers' lives.

So, while posting online is work for me, it’s a way of life for the tweens and teens I see creating and publishing content online. As a parent of two middle schoolers, I know how important social media is to them, and I also know what’s out there. I see the good, the bad and the viral, and I’ve have put together some guidelines, based on what I’ve seen, for my fellow parents to watch for.

Here are eight questions to ask yourself as you check out your children’s social media accounts.

Do you know what social media accounts your children have?

If you don’t, it’s time to start. It’s like when I had to look up the term “situationship,” I saw that ignorance is not bliss in this case. Or really any case when it comes to your children. Both of my children have smartphones, but even if your children don’t have smartphones, if they have any sort of device — phone, tablet, school laptop — it’s likely they have some sort of social media account out there. Every app our children wish to add to their smart devices comes through my husband’s and my phone notifications for approval. Before I approve any apps, I’ll read the reviews, run an internet search and text my mom friends for their experience.