Takeaway: It would be easy (and is common) for teens to have a Tumblr blog that they keep anonymous. Tumblr’s content is all over the spectrum, ranging from positive support to utterly obscene.
Kik Messenger is web-based instant messenger service for smart phones. It is free to download and popular enough with teens that the sentence, “What’s your Kik,” has almost become a cliché. (Users are found by the names they assign themselves, as opposed to phone numbers.) Recent issues with spam bots sending excessive volumes of explicit photos and texts have drawn criticism, and there is an active community blog where users can connect and share messages and photos with strangers. If you have concerns about your teen using Kik, WhatsApp is a good alternative to suggest – there are far fewer safety and privacy concerns with this one.
Takeaway: If you have privacy or safety concerns, Kik might not the best instant messaging option.
There’s a pretty good chance you’ve heard of SnapChat, but just in case you haven’t here’s how it works: You send a picture or short video to a friend (or list of friends.) You determine how long they can view it – up to 10 seconds – and then the Snap is deleted “forever.” Except it’s not. There’s a good chance your teens have already discovered this, but it’s pretty easy for viewers to grab a screen shot of your “Snap.” Instead of “gone forever,” your photo can now be saved and shared.
Takeaway: Even though they market the app as a way to share photos for a limited time only, it’s easy to capture and share images on SnapChat. Remind teens that any data they put on the internet never goes away.
Of course, the most effective way to know what the hot new social networking sites are is simply to ask your child. An open dialogue about how teens spend their time online is the best way to ensure that they are not only safe, but also good digital citizens.
Cornerstone Reputation teaches teens to use social media for good. Follow us on Twitter, and keep an eye out for next week’s blog – we’ll get you up to speed on ask.fm, Omegle, and Whisper.