PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Everyone knows about the dreaded “sex talk,” but these days, parents should also have the “tech talk.”

In the digital age, kids are signed up for cell phone plans and social media accounts before they hit puberty.

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Local mom-turned-author Jenn Cannon says her book acts as a guide to help kids navigate the high-tech tools.

But it starts with a dialogue at home.

Cannon has two tween girls, and she says she’ll be having the tech talk before the sex talk.

“I say anonymity is the new virginity, and kids very young are giving that anonymity away very freely,” Cannon explains.

The social media savvy mom of Sophie Takes A #Selfie created an online etiquette guide for kids, and she says it can also help parents.

“We want to set the boundaries, but we also want to let them know that we’re giving you this opportunity and we’re going to see how you handle it,” Cannon says.

In her book, the sweet sixteen serves as rules that encourage kids to be kind, keep it classy and beware of the over-share. She also suggests creating a tech contract that outlines your expectations.

Start with one social media profile set to private, and allow your child to connect only with people they know.

“You don’t want people mining through your children’s photos to collect and upload them somewhere else you might not know about,” Cannon warns.

She says parental control software can help parents by flagging inappropriate photos or words.

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But, at the end of the day, it’s about mutual understanding and respect.

And when it comes to her kids…

“She’s kind of like a hawk watching over your shoulder in a way,” says Sophie, Cannon’s daughter.

“She watches everything you do,” agrees Sydney, her other daughter.

They might not like it, but they admit that the open dialogue comes in handy.

“If there’s ever something we see that happens, we always come to her and ask her for advice,” says Sophie.

In a day and age when kids are socially active before they’re sexually active, Cannon urges parents to have the talk sooner rather than later.

“We are officially living in a world where your son or daughter might be asked to share an inappropriate picture before a first kiss,” she says.

So, when should you have the tech talk?

Cannon says it depends on your family, but typically around eight- or nine-years-old.

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From there, it’s about continuing the conversation and letting your children know they can come to you without worrying about repercussions.