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Keeping Your Teens out of Trouble on Social Media

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- It's another beautiful Friday at the park for Brandi Lint and her sons.

…Well, at least one of her sons. Lint says she can’t pry the other one away from his computer.

“He does not come out, I think he's afraid of sunlight,” Lint said.

Or rather, afraid of leaving the world of social media - a world that has its benefits, and in the case of Texas teen Josh Carter... it's downfalls.

He made a comment on Facebook about "shooting up a kindergarten class." The Texas teen spent more than three months behind bars until today when an anonymous donor posted his $500,000 dollars bond.

“He made a grownup choice, and there are grown up consequences,” Lint said.

Social media expert Josh Krakauer says the punishment may be a bit on the harsh side.

“It seemed one young student just expressing himself, exaggerating quite a bit,” Krakauer said.

However, it's another reminder to teens (as mom always said) that if you have nothing nice to say, don't say it at all.

“They should be very, very careful about something they say that can be misconstrued to be negative,” Krakauer said.

He says this case provides the perfect example that whatever you post.

“One… can be tracked, and two… can exist for ever and be shown to anyone.”

Parents make sure you stay involved in your child’s online networking habit, but away from the computer.

“Communicating with them offline is very, very important before jumping to any conclusion,” Krakauer said.

Some parents, like Jeff and April Ohlhauser, choose to take their kids offline altogether.

“I have to have full access to it, until you're comfortable with it, you're not on it,” April Ohlhauser said.

It means their son Jacolby is staying away from Facebook.

 “I was bummed about not being able to have one,” Jacolby said.

However, he's seen the problems that exist on the site.

“Every day on Facebook you can see people doing threats.”

So it’s a world that the Ohlhausers’ are avoiding for now…and one that Lint is trying to reel her son in from.

…at least to enjoy the sunshine every once in a while.

“Hopeful, but doubtful,” Lint said.

Iowa code says a person commits harassment when they act in a manner likely to cause the other person annoyance or harm.

When it comes to terroristic threats in Iowa, it says that it can be considered at threat only if an attack is imminent.
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