Social Media Sites

Facebook – You probably already know this one. However, remember that most teens access this site by their phone.

Twitter – Users get 140 characters to broadcast their thoughts around the globe. Twitter has made it easy to keep up with current events, shout out your favorite celebrity, and find humor. However, due to the fast-pace nature of Twitter, teens may think their words go unnoticed.

Instagram – Here, people post pictures from their phone. Their “followers” are instantly updated with these pictures, and oftentimes their geolocation. It’s like twitter, but for pictures only. People often link their Instagram accounts to their other social media networks, so what they post travels instantly.

Tumblr – This is an easy blog site for people looking to quickly get their thoughts online. It carries the same pitfalls as site like Facebook – only – your posts are not limited to your friends. They are posted and reblogged and favorited by anyone who also has a Tumblr account.

YouTube – We’ve probably all seen a viral video or two. However, remember that anyone can easily post to YouTube, and your kids may want to emulate what they see others posting.

Reddit – Reddit is a social website that allows its users to share links to content on the internet and post comments about the links. This enables not only the sharing of content (photographs, videos, websites, and so on) but also the discussion of said content. It is a bastion of forums and commentary. This site isn’t as popular as Facebook, however you should know that this where many people go to say what they think won’t be seen by the masses (ie parents). This is a false sense of security. For example, Anderson Cooper recently did an expose on the “jailbait.” Section on this site. You’ll want to closely monitor usage of this site.

SnapChat – Snapchat allows users to send messages, primarily photos and videos that are destroyed seconds after they have been received. This service is marketed to teens with “capture the moment” messaging, and plays on its contrast to Facebook, which archives every post and pic for years. Snapchat’s fleeting image feature offers users the illusion of anonymity, but screenshots can be taken. The biggest risk here is sending inappropriate content thinking it can’t be used against them. If your kids have the judgment of politicians, they could get into trouble.

Vine – On Vine, users create and post 6-second videos, which are often also shared on Twitter and Facebook. Expect plenty of inappropriate content here including enough sex and drugs to earn the app a 17+ rating in the iTunes Store. With an unverified confirmation of the age requirement, users are ready to post video. Blocking who watches the video requires constant vigilance to make sure videos are not shown to strangers.

Kik – Kik is a smartphone messenger system where users send videos and images instead of text. Think emojis on steroids. Teens love meme and Kik allows them to search for and share images, memes and YouTube videos. Parents might be surprised to see some of the jokes their teens are sharing, but there is no unique danger here.

Pheed – Pheed allows users to share all forms of digital content in 420 character or less. Teens are the primary users of Pheed, which is one of the top apps in the iPhone store. Each user gets their own channel where they can post their content publicly or privately. In addition to the social media aspects like Facebook, Pheed is a full service broadcast medium. Users can share audio tracks and live broadcasts. Your teenager could conceivably live-stream every waking moment on Pheed. I think we’ve all seen that episode of “Law & Order.” Users can also charge for access to the channel. A profit motive and under-developed judgment? What could possibly go wrong?