With kids using social media at an ever-expanding rate, it’s important to keep tabs on what these websites and apps can do and how to make sure your kids stay safe when they’re using them. I’m not going to give you any specific advice about managing your kids social media, I am going to say that when faced with all the challenges of social media and kids, the answer is not “take away their cellphones”. The answer is “Don’t stop being a parent”.
Here’s a list of websites and apps that your kids are probably using:
WhatsApp lets users send text messages, audio messages, videos, and photos to one or many people with no message limits or fees. Loads of teens use the app and it can be really useful for school work, sport teams and party organisers.
Instagram lets users snap, edit, and share photos and 15-second videos, either publicly or with a private network of followers. Teens are on the lookout for “likes” and public photos are the default setting. Hashtags and location information can make photos even more visible to communities beyond a teen’s followers if his or her account is public. Instagram Direct allows users to send “private messages” to their friends. These pictures don’t show up on their public feeds.
Snapchat is a messaging app that lets users put a time limit on the pictures and videos they send before they disappear. Most teens use the app to share silly or embarrassing photos without the risk of them going public. Snapchat Stories string Snaps together to create a narrative that lasts for 24 hours.
Tinder: Like me, you probably thought Tinder was a fun dating App used by your single peers – read Age 30+. It mostly is, but this dating app is gaining popularity amongst teens. Last year Tinder revealed that 2,5% of its users were under 18. Tinder lets users see and “like” any other user within a 1 kilometre radius. If the other user also sends out a “like,” the pair can chat and exchange information. You can see why this app might be popular at say, a high school tournament, where teens from different towns can “browse” the area in search of new friends.
Facebook: According to World Wide Worx Facebook is now used by a quarter of all South Africans and is the social media platform we adults are probably most familiar with. It is widely used by teenagers, but amongst our small group of teens, it is used to view and find content, not share. This makes sense as teens will steer clear of platforms where everyone’s family is!