About 1.19 billion people use Facebook, which is only one of the many social media available. Because these sites are so widely used, I consider a review of the social media activities of my clients and their spouses a vital preparatory step in the divorce process. But with increasing teen usage combined with insufficient security rules for young users, monitoring the activities of your children has become equally important.

Teens are spending an increasing amount of time using social media, often in ways that make parental monitoring more challenging. The most recent statistics from the Pew ResearchTeens and Technology 2013 report show the following trends:

  • About 37 percent of all teens have smart phones, marking a 14 percent increase since 2011.
  • Nearly one in four teens has a tablet computer, which compares to tablet computer ownership among adults.
  • About 93 percent of teens have a computer or home access to one.

While most parents recognize the risks to safety and reputation associated with social media use by minors, you may not realize that relaxed security settings, such as those introduced by Facebook in October 2013, potentially expand the audience for everything your children post on their pages. You must clearly explain to your children the importance of keeping your personal family information out of their posts. Your divorce attorney might find information that can improve the outcome of your settlement. But some information can work against you.

When children go through the stress of their parents’ divorce, they naturally seek comfort and advice from their friends. At one time, that meant having hushed, face-to-face conversations, but it now involves broadcasting information in a public forum. As an experienced family law attorney, I counsel my clients on what they need to do to minimize the risks that social media use adds to a divorce. In the end, however, parents need to make sure their children understand the importance of keeping family information private.