Geoff Johnson: What social media apps are your kids using? A practical guide



If, as a parent of children aged 6-16, you are unfamiliar with Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, YoLo, Spotify, or any other online or social media site your children use, you may want to -be time to do a little research.

Fortunately, some of this research has been done and is summarized in an online publication called Raising Digitally Responsible Youth: A Parent’s Guide.

Easily accessible online and recommended by both the BC Parent Advisory Council and the Department of Education, the guide provides what you really need to know in 2021 to stay on top of the hottest online apps (apps) and trends. popular.

The aim of this guide for parents is to introduce the main social media platforms and games that are already in use or have the potential to be used by our children.

While there has always been some sort of “generation gap,” online technology has the potential to widen that gap, especially when one of the generations has grown up in a world of online apps and social media and the other generation is still buying stamps and sending letters, while occasionally exploring Facebook.

A 2021 Pew Research Center survey project reveals that teens use social media platforms as a space for conversation or as an outlet for self-expression. Adults typically use social media, if they do, to maintain existing relationships with close friends and family.

Beyond that, kids are likely familiar with YouTube heroes like PewDiePie, Logan Paul, Jake Paul, iDubbbz, and Filthy Frank, whose overblown humor, outrageous pranks, and sometimes marginally obscene content feature in the five billion videos. watched by someone somewhere. everyday.

Instagram, owned by Facebook, is a popular photo sharing app with over 1 billion monthly active users and no filters on the images shared.

Formerly known as “”, TikTok is the world’s most popular video-sharing social network application. It’s based in Beijing, China, and the content is mostly short videos synced with popular songs.

Snapchat is another popular site. Since its release in 2011, it has remained the most popular social media app our children use to communicate and share their digital lives with each other.

Snapchat is the de facto medium for many students in Grades 7 to 12. The main reason for its popularity is that it allows users to send endangered photos that leave no evidence that could be part of the sender’s digital fingerprint.

Yolo, an acronym for You Only Live Once (Still with me here?), Is yet another free third-party app that is used in a Snapchat account. Users can add a sticker to their Snapchat story that invites anyone with access to their story to provide feedback or ask questions.

Other users can then answer these questions anonymously, a feature that allows users to say whatever they want about anything or anyone without having to accept responsibility or suffer repercussions.

And we haven’t touched on video games yet, where there is both bad and good news when it comes to age-appropriate content and use.

The bad news is that research generally suggests that prolonged exposure to violent video games like Grand Theft Auto (graphic violence, sexual content, alcohol and drug abuse, and foul language) can lead to feelings of aggression, as well. as a desensitization to violence and a decrease in an empathetic view of others.

The good news is that video games, especially those with parent-curated content, can offer a number of possible cognitive benefits, including better hand-eye coordination, practice of visuospatial skills, and visualization. using trial and error to solve more problems. often.

Minecraft, for example, is used in classrooms to develop skills such as collaboration, creative problem solving, communication, and systems thinking.

Unlike some more “progressive” approaches to parenting, Raising a Digitally Responsible Youth: A Guide for Parents says that as adults we are not our child’s best friend. Instead, as parents, we are responsible for ensuring the safety of our children both in the offline “real world” and in the digital online world.

The guide recommends that parents first download new apps and try them out – play with them. If a kid already has a social media app or game that they found somewhere, ask them to tell you about it.

And when it comes to online communication through social media, a good question our kids need to learn to ask themselves might be, “Is there anyone in the world you don’t want to read?” So don’t press send.

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Geoff Johnson is a former superintendent of schools.

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