Parenting: Monitor your kids’ social media usage

Parents of today’s kids are sometimes accused of being overprotective.

Children are not booted outside at the start of a day without school (sunshine or snow) and told to come home when it gets dark. Adults hover over them in parks and playgrounds. It is rare for a youngster to get sent to the convenience store on his or her bicycle to grab a few things.

Parents’ concern is not entirely unfounded, of course. But as the evolution of social media makes abductions seem more widespread, parental paranoia has not quite kept pace.

Fortunately, local law enforcement has.

Vienna Police, in conjunction with the Wood County 911 Center and the West Virginia Intelligence Fusion Center, worked quickly over the weekend to track down a 14-year-old girl who went missing from the Grand Central Mall after leaving with an 18-year-old Alabama man, Yashar King, she had met on social media. King was stopped on Interstate 85 in South Carolina, and arrested by Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Deputies.

Technology and cooperation helped return one girl safely.

But technology made this particular abduction possible. Vienna Police Chief Mike Pifer said the case is a good chance to remind parents to monitor their kids’ online activity. Be as vigilant in doing so as you are in monitoring their physical whereabouts — maybe more so.

“Watch over your kids’ social media platforms,” Pifer said. “Be involved with your kids.”