11 social media apps teens are currently using

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The start of the school year is a great incentive to stay (or become) relevant, or at least keep a virtual eye on your teens. You can use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but guess what, mom? Social media sites you understand are not half.

According to a 2013 Pew Internet study, teens are sharing more information than ever. This spring, tech media reported that while teens are still active on the social networks their parents know, they are increasingly seeking privacy and perceived anonymity on other sites.

What social media sites does your child use? Parents may not be familiar with the new generation of sites and apps.Today

Teens use a variety of apps, gravitating towards highly visual apps that offer instant sharing (and instant gratification) without much effort. Go figure.

Now that established social networks like Facebook and Twitter are staples of Gen Xers and baby boomers, it’s no wonder teens are moving away from them. Teens just don’t want to hang out where mom and grandma trade recipes.

Here’s what parents need to know about the hottest social media platforms teens are using right now.

Facebook

Your teen is probably a Facebook user, but don’t assume kids use this site the same way you do. Facebook is huge. It is a defect. Not having a Facebook profile would be tantamount to not being listed in the phone book at the time. Teenagers feel the need to maintain a profile there, even if they are not very active on the site. For best results on Facebook, don’t engage your teen. Just hide and collect information.

instagram

This photo editing and sharing app is very popular with teenage girls who love their selfies. Instagram allows users to edit and post photos taken on their phones, and the images are publicly viewable by default. Privacy settings are key here because there are entire communities dedicated to posting images of minors in sexually suggestive poses that aren’t technically pornography. Not to be paranoid, but innocent vacation photos could end up in a pedophile forum.

Twitter

Twitter offers a quick connection with anyone in the world. Users post updates in 140 characters or less. They can follow and be followed, as well as block other users from seeing what they post, but parents can also see what kids post without logging in, as long as they aren’t blocked. Because the images can be posted, all the same dangers of Instagram apply. Also remember that if your teen doesn’t want you to see their messages, they can just create a new account and not tell you about it.

pinterest

Pinterest organizes users around their interests. Users create boards, which are like digital bulletin boards where favorite content is “pinned”. It’s incredibly popular due to its ease of use, its ability to “save” content for later viewing, and its highly visual layout. Hazard? Once a gathering place for home cooks and interior design enthusiasts, Pinterest has gotten its share of porn. However, your teen probably won’t find it unless they search.

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 required age, users are ready to post a video. Blocking who is watching the video requires constant vigilance to ensure that the videos are not shown to strangers.

Reddit

Reddit users submit links or text, which are upvoted or downvoted by other users. Content is ranked to determine the post’s position on the homepage. All content is organized into categories called “sub-reddits”. This site is more popular with boys, who use the app less as a social network than as a source of information and as a search engine. Forum-style interaction means your teen can “talk” to anyone.

tumblr

Tumblr allows blogging for those who suffer from a short attention span. Of course, teenagers love it. Photo, audio and video posts are often shared from other sites with very little text. Tumblr’s big attraction is the ability to create collections of media that quickly and powerfully express the poster’s personality. Beware of popular anorexia communities on Tumblr glorifying images of young girls and appallingly thin women.

Kik

Kik is a smartphone messaging system where users send videos and images instead of text. Think emojis on steroids. Teenagers love memes, and Kik lets them search and share images, memes, and YouTube videos. Parents might be surprised to see some of the jokes their teens share, but there’s no unique danger here.

Snapchat

Snapchat allows users to send messages, mostly photos and videos which are destroyed seconds after they are received. The service is marketed to teens with “capture the moment” messaging, and plays on its contrast to Facebook, which archives every post and photo for years. Snapchat’s fleeting picture feature gives 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 be in trouble.

Pheed

Pheed allows users to share all forms of digital content in 420 characters or less. Teenagers are the main users of Pheed which is one of the best apps in the iPhone store. Each user has their own channel where they can post their content publicly or privately. In addition to aspects of social media like Facebook, Pheed is a full-service broadcast media. Users can share audio tracks and live broadcasts. Your teen could possibly live stream every waking moment on Pheed. I think we’ve all seen that episode of “Law & Order.” Users can also charge for channel access. Profit-seeking and underdeveloped judgment? What could go wrong?

Wanelo

Wanelo – which stands for “Want, need, love” – ​​is Instagram-meets-shopping and many teenage girls’ dream app. Users post images and links to products, which are then purchased, saved, tagged and shared by other users. When enough users tag a product, a store page is created. Users can follow stores and get updates when new products from these stores are posted. Wanelo is a wonderful tool to find out exactly what your 14 year old daughter wants for her birthday. Serious threats to your bank balance here.

4 channels

4chan is a simple forum platform. Anyone can post images to the message boards, and anyone can comment. Similar to Reddit, forums are dedicated to a variety of topics, but here users do not need to create an account to participate in the community. Anonymity can create extremely hostile environments online, so if your teen uses 4chan, you’ll want to have conversations about how to handle virtual aggression.

It can feel overwhelming to keep up with teens’ online lives, but take comfort in knowing that yours probably isn’t active on all of these networks. As sophisticated as the technology is and as fast as it evolves, communicating with teens still comes down to real-life conversations. And maybe a little snooping on their phones.

What social networks does your teen use? Let us know on the TODAY Moms Facebook page.

Lela Davidson is the author of Blacklisted by the PTAand Who peed on my yoga mat? Her thoughts on marriage, motherhood and life after 40 have appeared in hundreds of magazines, websites and anthologies.

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