By Carolyn Tatkin, attorney at The Frutkin Law Firm

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – social media sites are on the rise in popularity, especially among teens.

So, if your teen has a social media accounts, you may want to check up on what they are putting out into cyberspace.

According to an appeals court in Georgia, parents may be held responsible for their children’s bad behavior on Facebook.

Earlier this fall, a seventh-grade student created a fake Facebook profile that allegedly defamed a female classmate. Using an app called “Fat Face” the student made her look obese and posted hurtful and explicit comments on the page, according to court documents.

The ruling? Given that the false and offensive statements remained on display, and continued to reach readers for an additional eleven months, it was concluded that the parents’ negligence proximately caused some part of the injury the girl sustained from the incident. Therefore, the parents were held responsible for not getting their child to remove the profile from the site.

So, what should parents know to help protect themselves and their teens while online?

Don’t impersonate other people

Remind your teens that whatever they decide to do online has consequences both good and bad. If they create pages, sites or fake accounts for teachers, classmates, etc., there can be legal ramifications if it harms another person or business.

Share only what you feel comfortable with others seeing

Parents should talk to their kids about who they talk to online. Some people online have bad intentions, including bullies, predators and scammers. Even if privacy settings are high, it is possible for these people to interact with your teens. Encourage your teens to think about the language they use online, and to think before posting pictures and videos of themselves or of anyone else.

Your posts are forever

What many teens don’t realize is that any information they share on the internet is there forever. Even if they delete the information or photos, it is possible that the words or images may have already circulated online and may even exist on other people’s computers or technology devices. Teens should only share information that they feel comfortable with others seeing.

At the end of the day, communication between parents and teens is crucial to protecting them while they are online. Parents should do their part by being aware of what social media sites are out there and having open communication with their teens about what is and is not acceptable when communicating in the digital space.