What are the most trending apps with your tweens and teens? There is a good chance that if grandma uses it then it's probably not that one. In all seriousness keeping up with your kids latest trends can be tough. As a parent I tend to want to know what apps my kids are using. What sort of content they are being exposed to, who are they following, and probably most important to me, how much personal information are they revealing and to whom.
The functionality and features listed below are just an overview of these apps. Each app mentioned below has far more features and this should not be interpreted as a step-by-step guide of how they work. Rather an overview of these widely used apps by teens and basic features they offer. We'll save the deep dive for another article.
Facebook allows users to follow other people, business or even topics on general interests. There are plenty of security settings to limit who can and can't follow or even see you. It's not overly complicated to use Facebook or create privacy settings appropriate for your children. Of course they will still need to "friend" grandma so she can "like" and "reply" to every post your kids make and maybe their friends too. Really, Been There!
SnapchatOk, Snapchat is where your kids probably go after they log off of Facebook. Why? Because grandma is afraid of ghosts. :) Maybe that's not the reason but Snapchat has gained a significant amount of the social media market share amongst teens. Estimates indicate that over 80% of teens between the ages of 12 to 17 use Snapchat at least once per month. Snapchat has evolved since it first debuted in 2011. Unlike Facebook and many other social media apps, Snapchat messages only stay active for 24 hours and then they disappear.
Initially it was intended as a private person to person app that gave users the ability to share photos called "snaps". As it evolved users gained the ability to also send short videos, text messaging, video chat and even location features called Snap Map. When you see those pictures of someone that has puppy dog ears and nose there is a good chance that was created through the lenses that Snapchat offers. If you hear your kids talking about streaks they are likely referring to snaps they try to maintain with friends by using the snap feature to communicate at least once per day. Snapchat has many settings that you can fine tune to limit who your kids can be friends with and what they can make assessable to others.
The app provides many photo editing tools, backgrounds and image borders so you can really let your artistic flare shine. In addition to just posting your "insta", the app incorporates the ability to also share that same post on other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The app is extremely popular with celebrities and even businesses as a means of communication and promotional purposes. Instagram also has user settings in which you can control who can and can't follow and see your posts.
YouTubeThat's right, YouTube is still the go to for everything video. YouTube's teen users, aged 12 to 17, are estimated to be in the area of 85%. That's a substantial amount of the teen population. I just wonder how much my own kids contributed to the 1 billion hours worth of daily content watched. In case you've never watched a Fortnite Best Fails Compilation video or an AirPods Unboxing video, we're here to let you know that you can.
YouTube is unique in that anyone really can gain their 10 minutes of fame on this platform. Beyond just watching videos, YouTube allows users to upload their own videos. The younger generations have embraced this and there are plenty of kids producing quality video content. It's not all just video game walk throughs either. They run the gamete of makeup tips, how to make friendships bracelets, reviews of new plush characters, series of hand puppet shows and on and on. With the popularity of YouTube, came the rise of YouTubers who regularly post videos and anyone can subscribe to their YouTube channel for regular updates on new content. Chances are if your child watches YouTube, they know of several YouTubers. Note that YouTube also has a lot of content that is not suitable for children. There are plenty of instructions on the Internet on how to limit what your children have access too.
TikTokIf you haven't heard of TikTok before don't worry you're not alone. It's a new comer to the social media space but is another app that has gained instant popularity especially with the tweens. Over the last few years you may have heard your child talk about vine. Well vine is no more and closed down in 2017. Yet first released in 2016, TikTok was already moving its way up the social media rankings and in some ways filled the gap that vine left behind. While saying that it's important to note that the original intent of the app was more music oriented; similar to that of musical.ly, which was actually acquired by TikTok in 2017. Today it's estimated that there are over 500 million monthly active users.
TikTok basically allows a user to create short 15 second videos and share them on the app as well as other social media platforms. Lip syncing and duets were the common uses at first. As the app gained popularity it was quickly adopted within the meme culture and has become this social media outlet somewhere in between vine and musical.ly. For that reason TikTok has come under fire for several reasons including its use by child predators, it's less filtered content and its popularity with younger kids. Yes, the app does provide privacy settings including the ability to block users.
There is no question that my kids are growing up in a much different world. The apps mentioned above are mainstream in our culture today. I'll bet there is a good chance you yourself have one of these apps on your own phone. As a parent it's important to be involved with your children and pay attention to what they use are far as social media. With the apps so easily assessable on so many different devices nowadays it becomes more difficult to completely cut it off. Although you can create a safer and healthy online experience for your children by taking the time to set age appropriate privacy settings.