Program Director Dawn Barras speaks to WGNO about kids and social media.

It’s never too early to talk to your kids about social media smarts.

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Posted 12:22 AM, October 28, 2015, by Stephanie Oswald

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - It's the computer-age definition of family time: going through your teen’s Facebook page with them and pointing out things you see that could be cause for concern.

After a disruptive and disturbing threat in Hammond, law enforcement authorities are urging parents to talk with their kids about using social media responsibly.

It sounds like a storyline from a TV drama: multiple levels of law enforcement teaming up to track down an IP address from an anonymous post on a live blog—but it was real-life drama for Hammond on Tuesday.

“The seriousness of the offense is almost unbelievable,” says the Hammond Police Chief, Roddy Duval.

A 14-year-old boy was charged with terrorizing after the FBI in Washington, D.C. flagged something he posted on a live blog: a cartoon character holding an assault weapon—with a warning that Hammond students should stay home from school.

“And in the post there was nothing said about a shooting,” says Duval, but he pointed out that when you say don’t go to school and you have a photo of a gun, there’s a possibility of a shooting.”

Mental health therapist Dawn Barras says when it comes to talking with your kids about taking social media seriously, the earlier, the better. “It's hard to talk to your 16-year-old if you weren't talking to them when they were 6,” says Barras.

Barras says teenage brains are still developing and lack impulse control. In this social media-driven era, that calls for careful monitoring, starting with knowing all of your teen's online platforms.

And she says, keep the electronics where parental supervision is easier.

“Laptops, computers, tablets, should be kept in an open space. They shouldn't be doing this from their bedrooms,” she says.

Keep in mind that what looks innocent, could be troublesome, especially when it comes to apps.

“They can hide it. It can look like a calculator. When you open up the calculator app, it's really a social media app.”

Mindful parenting is key; consider parenting classes if you have doubts—and above all, educate yourself about the social media that plays such a large role in your kids’ lives