NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – It can be tough to send your teenager off to college, especially in the early years when you suddenly can’t keep an eye on them.

Parents are now finding new ways to make sure their children are safe without becoming a spying parent. “It’s tough I’ve had a lot of crying moments but I’m proud of her,” parent Heather Dixon said. She adds that social media has been a big help keeping up with her daughter.

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“She follows me on Instagram. She likes and comments on my posts so I’m sure she’ll see everything,” Fordham University student Jordan Dixon said.

While there are lots of ways to keep an eye on your kids, from GPS tracking apps, to stalking them on social media, parenting expert Julie Ross says that can send the wrong message to kids who are enjoying their independence for the first time.

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Ross says parents should offer to help, but have to able to let their children handle new situations in their own way when they don’t want the help.

“It’s ok to say to your child ‘would you like some advice?’ but if the child doesn’t give permission than that advice becomes the bricks that build up that wall between parent and child.”

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Experts say parents can use stories in the news to start the conversation about tough issues from missing children to drug addiction.