By Erin Kennedy


(CBS) — Today, 82 percent of teens have at least one cell phone or tablet, and almost as many use social media.

No wonder parents are so concerned about what their kids are doing on those devices and with those apps.

CBS 2’s Erin Kennedy speaks with an expert who says parents may be missing the biggest concern facing teens and pre-teens today.

No matter the age, kids and technology go hand in hand.

“Fifth grade is the new ninth grade,”  consultant Devorah Heitner, PhD, says.

“In grades K-2, each student has an iPad,” says Mike Lubelfeld, Deerfield Schools Superintendent.

Your child could be on any platform. Seventeen-year-old high school senior Molly Kirchberg says some of the apps she uses are Vine, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr.

Many parents, like Colleen and Mike Kirchberg, feel like they can barely keep up.

“There’s things going on right now that I’m sure we don’t have a clue about,” Mike Kirchberg says.

They collect all of the devices their three kids use before bedtime and often check texts and social media accounts.

Caroline Kirchberg thinks that rule is irritating, because “usually if they do look, they don’t find anything wrong.”

Her dad admits : “Ninety-nine percent of it is as boring as it could possibly be.”

A recent study revealed the number one online safety concern from most parents is meeting a stranger. But that fear is wildly out of line with reality. Only 2 percent of parents say it happened to their child.

But it did happen to the Kirchbergs. “I was looking at emails and it was from a strange man asking her questions: her height and weight and age and I thought: What is this?” the father says.

Molly says she was trying to get a fake ID,  “like normal teenagers.” She says she never would have met that man in person.

Another worry for parents: sexting.

Last school year in Deerfield, there were two instances at the junior high level. There were similar cases in Barrington, Batavia and Evanston.

Heitner is often hired by schools to teach teachers and parents how to best guide kids through these murky waters.

Her number one concern isn’t sexting. Hurt feelings, she says, are the more common problem.

“Almost every kid who gets on social media is going to have some challenges with feeling left out,” Heitner says.

Parents need to teach kids how to deal with that so it doesn’t escalate.

“It’s not about watching every move they make. It’s about leading by really great examples and then being a resource for kids if they do have a challenge, helping them solve that,” Heitner says.

Something else to put things in perspective: Only about 6 percent of parents say their kids have actually experienced bullying online. Dr. Heitner says every kid will make at least one digital mistake. She urges adults to be in constant communication about what’s appropriate for their children.

For more information about parental concerns, click here.