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12 Social Media Apps All Parents of Teens Should Know Wrap Up

 12socialappWelcome to the 12 Social Media All Parents Should Know Wrap Up!

It’s been a fun week learning about what social media apps teen love. This week we’ve covered Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Google+, Vine, Wanelo, Kik, Oovoo, Pheed, Ask.fm. Below, you find a round up of the week all in one easy post. I’ve discussed the privacy settings and things you’ll want to know as parents. This is not in any way to discourage your teen from using any of these. But, rather so that you know how to walk your teen through any that they might be using.

I’d encourage you to talk to your teen about the features they find appealing about a particular social media app. There might be one they want to use because it offers a feature that is useful, but you see some privacy concerns. Is there a better alternative? Are there ways to work through those privacy issues? In doing so you can teach your teen valuable lessons about what to share and not to share with others.

Talk to your teens about the usefulness of the social media apps they use. Do those apps make their lives easier? Or, do they have an app that’s eating up a chunk of their time and not helping them accomplish something productive?

Let’s talk to our kids and let’s walk with them through social media!

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FacebookFacebook

Facebook is a popular free social networking website that allows registered users to create profiles, upload photos and video, send messages and keep in touch with family and friends. It offers a range of privacy options to its members.

What Teens Say

Teens often feel they need to get a Facebook account as the “base” social media account. But, many younger teens don’t enjoy hanging out on Facebook because they prefer a social media platform where they’ll run into fewer adults.

What Parents Should Know

Facebook updates its privacy policies often. Teach your teen how to manage their privacy settings and let them know the importance of reviewing those privacy settings regularly. The only information required when setting up an account is your name, email address, and gender. There’s no need for teens to share their cell phone or address. This information could end up in the hands of marketers if teens share it and with the constant updates and third party apps, that’s easy to do.

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TwitterTwitter

Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service where users can send and read short 140-character text messages, called “tweets”. Registered users can read and post tweets. Unregistered users are only able to read them.

What Teens Say

Teens love Twitter because they are able to share quick thoughts and updates with friends. The biggest draw for teens is that Twitter makes it easy for them to keep up to date on breaking news and celebrity gossip. Many teens love following their favorite bands, celebrities and even television shows.

What Parents Should Know

The majority of teens set their account to public. Although there is the option for setting your account to private and then selecting who follows you, most teens report having their accounts set to public (Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2013). It’s important as parents we talk to our kids about what they post and how quickly a post can travel.
Tweets appear immediately. If you have a regret about something you posted, you can remove it. But, your followers can still read what you wrote until it’s gone. Teens who are prone to “vent” in the heat of the moment may need guidance here. Using an app which allows teens the ability to schedule their tweets (TweetDeck or HootSuite) might be a good transition tool if this is a concern.
It’s a promotional tool for celebrities. The big appeal of Twitter for teens is that they are able to get behind-the-scenes access to celebrities’ lives. This gives a whole new level of access to your teen. It’s good to have a conversation with your teen about marketing and point out the strategy that goes into the tweets of their favorite celebrities.

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InstagramInstagram

Instagram is a platform that lets users snap, edit, and share photos and 15-second videos. Users are able to share these publicly or they can share with a list of those they’ve approved as followers.

What Teens Say

Instagram brings all the features teens love into one social media site. With Instagram you can share, see, and comment on photos. There are lots of fun filters and cool effects to add quickly to photos you take which give them a high quality, artistic look.

What Parents Should Know

Teens want their photos and videos to receive “Likes.” Similar to Facebook, it’s easy for teens to fall into the trap where they begin to measure the “success” of each photo they share by the number of likes or comments they receive. Posting a photo or video can be problematic if teens post it to validate their popularity. It can easily become a social media app that inflates their self-esteem or tears it down.
Accounts are set to public by default. This means photos and videos shared on Instagram are public and may have location information unless privacy settings are adjusted. Hashtags can make photos even more visible to communities beyond a teen’s followers. It’s important you know this so you can walk your teen through the privacy settings that work for your family as they set up their Instagram account.
Mature content can slip in. Instagram’s Terms of Service specify that users should be at least 13 years old. It also says users shouldn’t post partially nude or sexually suggestive photos. Terms of Service doesn’t cover violence, swear words, or drugs.

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SnapchatSnapchat

Snapchat is a photo and video sharing application. It differs from other social media applications because with Snapchat photos and videos you send disappear seconds after they’re viewed. You decide how long a photo will “live,” from 1 to 10 seconds, after it’s viewed.

What Teens Say

Snapchat’s creators intended the app to function as a way for users to share fun, light moments without the risk of having them go public. That’s the appeal of this app for most teens. They can send goofy or embarrassing photos to one another.

What Parents Should Know

It’s a myth that Snapchats go away forever. An image sent never truly goes away. The person on the receiving end can take a screenshot of the image before it disappears. Snapchats can be recovered. And, there are now apps which screenshot a snap.

Many parents are concerned that the seemingly risk-free messaging might encourage users to share pictures containing inappropriate content.

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tumblrTumblr

Tumblr is like a cross between a blog and Twitter: It’s a streaming scrapbook of text, photos, and/or videos and audio clips. Users create and follow short blogs, or “tumblelogs,” that can be seen by anyone online if made public.

What Teens Say

Many teens have tumblrs for personal use where they share photos, videos, and other things they find funny with their friends. Tumblelogs with funny memes often go viral online, as well. One popular was “Texts from Hillary.”

What Parents Should Know

This online hangout is hip and creative but you can find sometimes find raunchy material. Pornographic images and videos, depictions of violence, self-harm, drug use, and offensive language are easily searchable.

Privacy can be guarded, but only through a bit of a workaround. The first profile a member creates is public and viewable by anyone on the Internet. Members who desire full privacy need to create a second profile, which they’re able to password protect.

Posts are often copied and shared. Reblogging on Tumblr is similar to re-tweeting where a post that’s reblogged from one tumblelog then appears on another. Many teens like that. In fact, they want their posts reblogged. That’s the idea for most when joining Tumblr. Keep that in mind and ask yourself do you really want your kids’ words and photos on someone else’s page?

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Google+Google+

Google+ is Google’s social network. It is open to teens. Google+ has taken Facebook’s friend concept to another level by using “circles.” These circles give users more control about what they share with whom.

What Teens Say

Teens aren’t wild about Google+ yet and the movement to it is slow but steady. It could be because teens are finding their parents are more accepting of Google+. The social aspects of it can be used for things like completing homework, so parents don’t feel it’s a total time waster. One popular aspect of Google+ is the addition of real-time video chats in Hangouts (virtual gatherings with approved friends).

What Parents Should Know

Teens can limit who sees certain posts by using “circles.” Friends, acquaintances, and the general public can all be placed in different circles. If you’re friends with your kid on Google+, know that you may be in a different “circle” than their friends and therefore seeing different information.

Google+ takes teens’ safety seriously. Google+ created age-appropriate privacy default settings for any users whose registration information shows them to be teens. It also automatically reminds them about who may be seeing their posts if they’re posting on public or extended circles.

Data tracking and targeting are concerns. Google+ activity is shared across Google services including Gmail and YouTube. This information is used for targeting ads to the user and you can’t opt out of this type of sharing across Google services.

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VineVine

Vine is a social media app that lets users post and watch looping six-second video clips. Vine is owned by Twitter.  The community of people using Vine is diverse. So you’ll find videos that are creative, funny, and sometimes thought-provoking.

What Teens Say

Videos are as diverse as the people creating them. You’ll find stop-motion clips of puzzles doing and undoing themselves. Then, you can find a six-second skits showing how a teen wakes up on a school day vs. a day during summer. Teens often use Vine to create and share silly videos of themselves or their friends and family.

What Parents Should Know

Vine is full of inappropriate videos. With just a few minutes of searching, you can easily find videos of half-dressed and full frontal nudity videos. There’s a lot of funny, clever videos on Vine. But, it doesn’t appear they’re trying to make the app appropriate for kids or add a way to set filters for content.

There are significant privacy concerns. The videos you post, the accounts you follow, and the comments you make on videos are all public by default. You can adjust your privacy settings so only followers will see videos you post and you approve new followers.

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WaneloWanelo

Wanelo-Want, Need, Love-combines shopping, fashion blogging, and social networking all in one. It’s popular among teens because it allows them to discover, share, and buy products they like.

What Teens Say

Teens keep up with the latest styles by browsing Wanelo’s “trending” feed, which displays the most popular items across the site. They can also cultivate their own style by using the “My Feed” function to display content from the users, brands, and stores they follow.

What Parents Should Know

If you like it, you can buy it. This means users can purchase almost anything they see on Wanelo by clicking through to the original site for any product.

Brand names are prominent. Users are required to follow at least three “stores” when they register and at least three “people.”

NOTE: I was able to set up my account without having to select 3 stores or 3 people to follow. It did initially crash on my phone but is now working properly. I did go through a list of items and selected if I liked them or not. I was easily able to stop the process. I would love to hear how the set up worked for others. I was able to go in add select stores to follow which actually is a feature I love. There are TONS of stores in their list and you can even select a price range. I found this nice as it’s a way to select stores and items which fit your budget.

Many people using Walone are just everyday people, but there are also publications like Seventeen Magazine and product brands.

There’s plenty of mature clothing. This could lead to arguments over what your teen can and can’t wear.

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KikKik

Kik Messenger is an app-based alternative to standard texting that teens use for social networking. It’s free to use but has lots of ads.

What Teens Say

It’s fast and has no message limits, character limits, or fees if you just use the basic features. Teens aren’t worried about limits do Kik is a bit more worry free and fun for them.

What Parents Should Know

Kik’s ability to link to other Kik-enabled apps within itself is a way to drive purchases from users for developers. The app also encourages new users to invite everyone in their phone’s address book to join Kik, since users can only message those who also have the app.

You’ll want to talk to your teens about sharing with strangers. An app named OinkText, linked to Kik, allows communication with strangers who share their Kik usernames to find people to chat with. There’s also a Kik community blog where users can submit photos of themselves and screenshots of messages to with others.

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OovooOovoo

Oovoo is a free video, voice, and messaging app. Users can have group chats with up to 12 people for free. The premium version removes ads from the service if you want to use the service free of ads.

What Teens Say

Teens mostly use Oovoo to hang out with friends. Many log on after school and keep it up while doing homework. Oovoo can be great for group studying and it makes it easy for kids to receive “face to face” homework help from classmates. In addition to the video feature you can can send files and screenshare on Oovoo so using it for group projects is ideal.

What Parents Should Know

You can only chat with approved friends. Users can only communicate with those on their approved “contact list,” which can help ease parents’ safety concerns.

Because Oovoo makes video chatting so affordable and accessible, it can also be addicting. A conversation with your kids about setting boundaries with their time may be in order.

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PheedPheed

Pheed is best described as a hybrid of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube but you can require others to pay a premium to access your personal channel.

What Teens Say

Pheed’s multimedia “all in one” offering seems to be capturing teens’ attention the most. Some teens also like the fact that they have more control over ownership and copyright, since Pheed allows its users to watermark their original content.

What Parents Should Know

According to Forbes, Pheed has swiftly become the No. 1 free social app in the App Store. And it’s largely because teens have flocked there. We’ll be watching to see if musicians, artists and celebrities begin using Pheed to promote themselves. If so, Pheed would allow them a platform to charge their fans a small fee to view what they post.

Users can make money by charging others a subscription fee to access their content. They can get between $1.99 to $34.99 per view, or the same price range per month. A cut of all proceeds goes to Pheed.

Privacy updates are in the works. Currently all posts are public by default and therefore searchable online.

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ask.fmAsk.fm

Ask.fm is a social site that lets kids ask questions and answer those posted by other users. Sometimes they are asking and answering anonymously.

What Teens Say

There are some friendly interactions on Ask.fm and the ability to toss out a question or answer one is appealing for many teens. There are lots of mean comments and some creepy sexual posts. This iffy content can also be the appeal of the site for some teens. Some of what you’ll see there is reality show shocking and does have that “I can’t believe they said that” draw to it.

What Parents Should Know

Parents need to know that this social site lets kids ask questions and answer questions posted by other users. Bullying is a major concern. In fact, the British news website MailOnline reported that the site has been linked to the suicides of several teens. As with many social sites, some users keep things friendly and clean, while others post hateful comments or sexual come-ons. Kids have the option of recording themselves with a webcam answering a question. The site doesn’t monitor content, but users can report behavior that’s violent, pornographic, or contains hate speech.

Talk to your teens about cyberbullying and how anonymity can encourage mean behavior.

Anonymous answers are optional. Users can decide whether to allow anonymous posts and can remove their answers from streaming to decrease their profile’s visibility. If your teens do use the site, they’d be best turning off anonymous answers and keeping themselves out of the live stream.

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1 Comment

  1. Online Safety for Homeschoolers on July 8, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    […] 12 of the Top Social Media Sites for Teens […]

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