The 7 Other Social Networks Your Kids Are Using
You’ve opened your own Facebook account, you’ve friended your teenage children, and you’re feeling pretty pleased with yourself that there are no pictures, videos or awkward messages that might embarrass the family. There’s only one problem: your kids aren’t using Facebook anymore.
As parents and even grandparents flock to join Facebook, many kids are headed in the opposite direction, choosing platforms that better suit their instant messaging lifestyles and are not monitored by family, teachers, and other adults that are firmly outside their inner circles.
That doesn’t mean that kids are misbehaving on these other networks. Far from it. Although the salacious media would have you believe otherwise, teens will tell you that sexting and other inappropriate behavior is extremely rare and would be as shocking to most kids and it would be to adults.
So which are these ‘other’ networks and social media apps that are increasingly home to our teens and even younger kids? Here are just a few of the platforms that are proving to be more than just a passing fad:
A picture is worth a thousand words and nowhere is that more true than on the Internet. While Facebook encourages a conversation, Instagram is all about the pictures. Easy-to-use filters and editing tools can turn even the most basic of photographs into something to be proud of, and with Throwback Thursday, Flashback Friday and Selfie Sunday, Instagram directly appeals to every teen’s built-in narcissistic tendencies!
Yes, the social network that brought you on-the-spot news of the Haiti Earthquake and the Arab Spring is also home to a rapidly growing population of teens. The short, snappy nature of the posts appeal to all ages of kids, who usually don't need anything like 140 characters to get their point across. The unique hash tag format also allows them to be creative #hatingschool #tgif #justinbieberforever
Remember when BlackBerrys were popular among teens because of BBM (BlackBerry Messenger)? Well, imagine BBM with photos and you have Snapchat. Snapchat encourages kids to take more of those beloved selfies. Even better, Snapchat messages can be viewed for just 10 seconds before they disappear. It’s almost like a real conversion! (Don't be fooled by the 'disposable text' description; if you really want to preserve a Snapchat, you can take a quick screenshot.)
Vine lets you produce 6 second videos, which can be attached to tweets, posted on Facebook or preserved on your own Vine stream. Kids can be as creative or as crazy as they want, with laugh-out-loud videos earning the biggest bonus points. However, Vine itself is quick to point out that there are no parental controls, so theoretically anyone can see any Vine, including some of the more inappropriate videos that are finding their way onto the site.
With the decline of BlackBerry (and the beloved BBM) and the great divide between iPhone and Android smartphones, there has long been a need for a smart and flexible cross-platform messaging tool. Enter Kik, a rapidly-evolving messaging service that now has over 50 million users. With Kik you can exchange videos, images, emoticons, and more, and new features like Kik Cards allow for even more customization.
While Kik and Snapchat are convenient messaging tools, sometimes even teenagers need a little more room to express themselves. Part Instagram, part blog, Tumblr allows you to post text, photos, quotes, music, and videos from your desktop or your phone. You can customize everything, follow friends or strangers alike, and share everything on Facebook and Twitter. You can find virtually anything on Tumblr, which makes it another widely-used social network that parents might need to be concerned about.
Pheed may be less than a year old but it’s already regarded by many as filling the void left by MySpace. Concentrating on music files and live broadcasts, Pheed is the home to a growing collection of artists, performers, and music fans in general. There are even tools to monetize your musical submissions through pay-per-view options and more.