When you think about it, it's amazing just how quickly social media has become a part of our lives. Most of us can clearly remember life before social media, not that long ago. But for our kids, especially those under fifteen, they've known nothing else all their lives. How strange must it be for them, growing up in a world where social media is neither something novel nor particularly new?
In this post, we're going to look at the five biggest social media apps kids are using right now – and everything you need to know about them.
Snapchat seems like quite a strange social app when you first encounter it. Here, users are encouraged to post text and pictures, all for them to disappear after a given time limit. The makers of Snapchat wanted to ensure that kids couldn't make the same mistakes as they did on other social media. Teens could send embarrassing pictures and messages to each other, without regretting it long term.
So what do parents need to know? Well, the claim that your kids' activities will just disappear is, unfortunately, a fantasy. Data sent over the Internet is still just data. And as a result, it can always be intercepted and stored.
Parents should also be aware that the fact that Snapchat deletes history makes sexting more attractive. Teens know that Snapchat reduces the risk that they will be caught.
WhatsApp is a cross-platform, instant messaging app for smartphones. Recently, however, concern has been raised that the app is putting children at risk. Many children using the service have received inappropriate content, like pornography.
WhatsApp state in their user guidelines that people need to be at least 16 to use their service. But many children ignore this and use the platform anyway: the app is just so convenient. However, there are substantial risks. If you want to learn more about Whatsapp, read this review.
Omegle is a chat app, like the other apps we've discussed so far, but with a crucial different. Everybody who uses Omegle is essentially anonymous. And they can discuss anything they like with other people in their chat rooms. The app first became popular because of the ability to discuss any topic, without revealing who you are.
Parents should know that users get paired with strangers. And those strangers may want to discuss political extremism, violence and sexuality. It's a great place for adults to unload their innermost thoughts, but not the sort of place children want to find themselves.
Ask.fm is a little bit like the website, Quora, albeit less organised. Kids can ask each other questions, often anonymously. And other people, usually children, will respond. Most of the discussion centres on crushes and favourite foods. But parents should be aware that other more sinister topics creep in from time to time.
Concern has also been raised over bullying conducted on the platform. As before, anonymity seems to provoke bad behaviour, and this can result in some children being hurt.