• Social Media 101
    There are so many social media apps, and new ones are popping up all the time. We've put together a list of the most common apps your children may be using, as well as, letting you know about some of the dangers these apps pose.
     Facebook - a way for people to connect with friends and colleagues.
    Why it's popular: Facebook is the most widely used social media site and one of the most effective online marketing tools. Many teens don't find Facebook to be as "cool" as other social media sites -- after all, their parents use it -- but they often maintain a presence on it even if they don't actively use it.
    What parents need to know:
    • Settings are automatically set to public. Encourage your child to review their privacy settings and make sure they know to think about who will see something before they actually post it.
    • The activity log lets people know every move that's made. If your child likes a photo, comments on a post, adds a friend, plays a game, or does just about anything else on Facebook, it appears in his/her activity log. Everyone who is friends with your child can see their activity, and lets them know they're online even if their chat settings are turned off.
    • Facebook has tools to help you. If your child is under 13 and has an account (it's against Facebook's rules), you can get their removed. The site also has resources for you to get help if your child is being bullied on the site. Visit the Family Safety Center for help.
     Twitter - allows users to post brief messages and follow other users 
    Why it's popular: Teens like using it to share quick tidbits about their lives with friends. It's also great for keeping up with what's going on in the world -- break news, celebrity gossip, etc.
     What parents need to know:
    • Public tweets are the norm for teens. Though you can choose to keep your tweets private, most teens report having public accounts (Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2013). Talk to your kids about what they post and how a post can spread far and fast.
    • Updates appear immediately. Even though you can remove tweets, your followers can still read what you wrote until it's gone. This can get kid in trouble if they say something in the heat of the moment.
    • It's a promotional tool for celebs. Twitter reels teens in with behind-the-scenes access to celebrities' lives, adding a whole new dimension to celebrity worship. You may want to point out how much marketing strategy goes into the tweets of those they admire.
     Snapchat - pictures and videos diaper after being viewed. 
    Why it's popular: Snapchat's creators intended the app's fleeting images to be a way for teens to share fun, light moments without the risk of having them go public. And that's what most teens use it for: sending goofy or embarrassing photos to one another. Snapchats also seem to send and load much "faster" than email or text.
    What parents need to know:
    • Many schools have yet to block it, which is one reason why teens like it so much >(Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2013).
    • It's a myth that Snapchats go away forever. Data is data: Whenever an image is sent, it never truly goes away. (For example, the person on the receiving end can take a screenshot of the image before it disappears.) Snapchats can even be recovered.
    • It can make sexting seem OK. The seemingly risk-free messaging might encourage users to share pictures containing inappropriate content. 

    Resource: A parents' guide to Snapchat: What parents need to know to keep children safe

     Instagram - users can share photos and 15-second videos.
    Why it's popular: Instagram unites the most popular features of social media sites: sharing, seeing, and commenting on photos. Instagram also lets you apply fun filters and effects to your photos, making them look high-quality and artistic.
    What parents need to know:
    • Teens are on the lookout for "Likes". Similar to Facebook, teens may measure the "success" of their photos - or even their self-worth - 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.
    • Public photos are the default. 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.
    • Mature content can slip in. The terms of service specify that users should be at least 13 years old and shouldn't post partially nude or sexually suggestive photos -- but they don't address violence, profanity, or drugs.

    Resource: A parents' guide to Instagram: What parents need to know to keep kids safe

    Yik Yak
     Yik Yak - connects users with strangers in their area. 
    Why it's popular: This app is basically a location-based bulletin board that shows users the most recent posts from users within a 1.5-mile radius. User can connect and share information with others without having to know them.
    What parents need to know:
    • This app has a serious history of bullying problems. Many middle and high schools have reported incidents that involve this app. Since it's anonymous, many users are using the full names of people they're bullying because they think there will be no consequences. Some school districts have reported that bomb threats were made via this app.
    • The makers are trying to block the app in schools. Bullying became such  a big problem in Chicago that Yik Yak actually blocked the entire city from using it for days. They are using a third-party service to geo-sense every middle and high school in the United States.
    • You can prevent your child from using this app. If your child's phone is set to prevent apps from determining their location with the GPS feature, the app won't work.
     Tumblr - interactive blogging site. 
    Why it's popular: Many teens have tumblrs for personal use -- sharing photos, videos, deep thoughts, and things they find funny with their friends. Tumblelogs with funny memes and gifs often go viral online, as well (case in point: "Texts from Hillary").
    What parents need to know:
    • This online hangout is hip and creative but sometimes raunchy. Pornagraphic images and videos, depictions of violence, self-harm, drug use, and offensive language are easily searchable.
    • Privacy can be guarded, but only though an awkward workaround. The first profile a member creates is public and viewable by anyone on the Internet. Members who desire full privacy have 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: A post that's reblogged from one tumblelog then appears on another. Many teens like -- and in face, want -- their posts reblogged. But do you really want your kids' words and photos on someone else's page?
     Google+ - a way for people to connect with friends and colleagues. 
    Why it's popular: Teens aren't wild about Google+ yet. But many feel that their parents are more accepting of it because they associate it with schoolwork. One popular aspect of Google+ is the addition of real-time video chats in Hangouts (virtual gatherings with approved friends). 
    What parents need to 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 confers. Google+ activity (what you post and search for and who you connect with) is shared across Google services including Gmail and YouTube. This information is used for targeting ads to the user. Users can't opt out of this type of sharing across Google services.
     Oovoo - a free video, voice, and messaging app. 
    Why it's popular: 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.
    What parents need to 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.
    • It can be distracting. Because the service makes video chatting so affordable and accessible, it can also be addicting. A conversation with your kids about multitasking may be in order.
    • Kids still prefer in-person communication. Though apps like Oovoo make it easier than ever to video chat with friends, research shows that kids still value face-to-face conversations over online ones -- especially when it comes to sensitive topics. Still, they sometimes find it hard to log off when all of their friends are on.
     Pheed - a hybrid of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
    Why it's popular: Pheed's multimedia "all-in-one" offering seems to be capturing teens' attention the most. Some teens also like the face that they have more control over ownership and copyright, since Pheed allows its users to watermark their original content.
    What parents need to know:
    • It's hot! According to Forbes, Pheed has swiftly become the No. 1 free social app in the App Store, thanks in large part to teens. Time will tell whether artists and celebrities will jump on the bandwagon and start using Pheed to promote themselves and charge their fans to view what they post.
    • Users can make money. Users can charge others a subscription fee to access their content, ranging from $1.99 to $34.99 per view, or the same price range per month. Note that a cut of all proceeds goes to Pheed.
    • Privacy updates are in the works. Kids should be aware that their posts are currently public by default and therefore searchable online.
     Ask.fm - lets kids ask and answer questions.  
    Why it's popular: Although there are some friendly interactions on Ask.fm -- Q&As about favorite foods or crushes, for example -- there are lots of mean comments and some creepy sexual posts. This iffy content is part of the site's appeal for teens. 
    What parents need to know:
    • Bullying is a major concern. The British news website MailOnline reported that the site has been linked to the suicides of several teens. 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.
    • Q&As can appear on Facebook. Syncing with Facebook means that a much wider audience can see those Q&As.