Bad Mum


8 February 2018

Know Your Social Media Apps For Your Kids

My belief is that, as parents, we need to embrace ALL of social media and by embrace I mean know about it and what it does. We don't have to use it, but it helps. I have acquaintances that dismiss social media as the devil and declare they want nothing to do with it. They are parents and I think this is neglect. You wouldn't send your child off to an unknown destination so why let them use an unknown app?
A number of parents with primary aged children contacted me, via Instagram, to ask if I would elaborate on the apps: their use, age limits and I thought I would add my own thoughts/comments on how my teens - or teens I know - are using the ones I am aware of. I hope it helps?
13+ is the suggested use of most Social Media Accounts, which ties in with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.  My descriptions may seem limited but if you google them yourself, you will find more elaborate details but the actual information provided by the sites is very clear on how it can be written/shared (I’m not willing to take a risk!)

FaceBook (royal blue pill with white f) is a social media and social networking service used by individuals to link with friends and family and companies as advertising. It is also used by bloggers as a networking tool. Individually it is used by the "lame" generation. Lame as in, usually Parents and Grandparents sharing embarrassing pictures, memes and comments about the teens in their life. Hands up, I do it. However, I would not use it to intentionally embarrass my teens. I use it to share pictures/day-to-day life with far flung family members. I am ONLY friends with people I would sit down and have a coffee with and I do not use it to send (not) hidden negative messages to other humans. Teens rarely use it although the messenger side of it is handy and free.
You set up an account with your name (or a derivative of, an email address and date of birth). FaceBook are very keen to remind followers of the privacy settings and I personally have mine set at 'friends only' which means that only people I have approved can view my page and interact with me. There are various options as in friends of friends etc. you can explore.
FaceBook is launching Messenger Kids for 6 - 12 year olds although parents have to set up the account for them. It is a purely messenger based app. (I believe it was launched in the US in December 2017.)
Instagram (pink and orange circular table with white camera lens) is a service that allows users to share pictures/videos privately to pre-approved followers and comment either publicly or privately, via message, to any accounts. It also, like Facebook, carries a lot of advertising and business accounts.
It is seen as slightly 'cooler' than FaceBook - marginally - as once again it has been hijacked by the middle aged and businesses!
Again you need a user name, email and date of birth to set up an account. There is either private or public, easily switched between. Instagram has come under a lot of complaint due to its use of algorithms in 2017 whereby it feeds its users what it thinks they want to see. It used to be chronological (and I loved it!) Pictures are put on your grid and can be liked and commented on. There is a 'thing' with teen girls whereby they delete pictures with less than 30 likes (public adoration) and a lot of them only leave 6 pictures on their grid at a time. I have about 3000!
Stories was introduced in 2017 and you can use this to record 30 second clips of live comment/action which disappears after 24 hours. There is also an option to save a few stories to your profile permanently.
Snapchat (yellow tablet with a ghost symbol) is the darling of the teen social media World. It is used continuously to communicate by 'snapping' a picture with your mobile phone and sending it to one of your friends. 150m photos were sent daily in 2016! Users can set the life of the image in their Story, which means that you can re-view the image for 24 hours. However if you direct message someone with an image, once they have opened your image, it disappears. You are also notified if the viewer screen shots (captures) your image. 
Anyone can search you/your name, but you have to be accepted as a friend/follower to communicate directly. Businesses and celebrities have open accounts.
Security features include friends only and ghost mode. Ghost mode can be used to stop users from being tracked within a map feature called snap maps (pictured), which is automatic. You have to disable it. Snap maps looks good until you really wonder whether you want people knowing where your children are. I insist that ghost mode is on! Snapchat state that their usage dramatically drops after 11pm and also do not believe they are used – widescale – for explicit images.  If you have any issue with your teens/social media, I bet it will be because of snapchat.  A number of schools have had issues with teens sharing inappropriate pictures of themselves.
Twitter (white bird on pale blue pill) is a news and social networking app. You can make your account private but it is used mainly by open accounts for news/business. My 16yo has an account as he is studying A Level politics so it is a great way to keep completely up to date with current affairs. A high number of public figures have a Twitter account and send 140 character tweets (recently doubled to 280) to update you on their activities and thoughts and general current affairs.
YouTube is very popular video sharing site for children - they can watch other people playing their favourite video games, whilst playing those games on their XBox, PlayStation or Nintendo!!! Again, always check the privacy settings, age appropriate settings and remember on Apple products there is also a setting within Settings under Restrictions. If you allow your children to have Live Memberships for their online gaming, then always ensure you know who they are competing against. Some of the war games have a wide range from 10 - 55 so some swearing may be overheard! You can also set privacy on live games.
Additional logos within the picture are Photoshop (PS on the pale blue/royal blue capsule): As an application - via Mac and Windows - it is used to photoshop an image. Vimeo (white v on pale blue tablet): video sharing site - upload and share. Focusses on short videos and films. Uber go (black capsule to left of image with a white circle and what looks like a charger cable!) Uber are the taxi service and the reason, I believe, this is within this image is because it is a highly downloaded app. My friend University aged daughter uses it and has her Uber account linked to paypal so that she always has funds for emergency travel. Linkedin (in on teal capsule): is a career and business oriented social networking site for professionals. You effective upload your profile and CV so that other professionals can view your account. Is heavily used in career marketing. Google (multicoloured G on a brown and orange capsule): I believe Google is listed due to it's domination across search/email/drive/cloud storage/maps. Tinder (white flame on bright pink capsule): used as a dating app to meet others. The age limit was raised in 2016 from 13 to 18! Similarly Apple (white tablet) and Apple messaging (speech bubble on green tablet) are shown due to Apple's dominance in applications via the App store which is an automatic app on any iPhone.
Other apps you may hear about /children may mention are Musicaly (lip sync music app you can record yourself and share.  There were reports of children being targeted via this app in 2016.  I’m not sure how popular it is now, and House Party, which is a group video chat app.  Not as widely used as Facetime but can be popular with young teens.

I return to my previous message and that is, when you allow your children to use a computer, laptop, mobile device - iPad or phone - it is imperative that you understand what they are searching and viewing.
As mentioned in other posts, we use BT Access Control (via our Wifi) and Oupact to police timings.
I am a firm believer that we, as parents, must control our children's usage of these. They are a good bargaining tool and at the end of the day, you own the device and it is yours to withdraw. Our children share their passwords with us and if they ever denied us access to a device the internet and device would be disabled. The Teens, obviously, have data allowance contracts but as we pay for these the payment would be stopped as would their usage. Do not be afraid to ask, engage and control the device. We have found knowledge and discussion work really well and we have not encountered any issues, just openess and honesty.

Written by Claire @clairegoodtimes 


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