“Boy the way Glen Miller Played. Songs that made the hit parade. Guys like us we had it made. Those were the days.” It was the theme song to the TV show “All In The Family,” but it might as well be the tune Facebook is singing these days.
As parents, we thought we had it all figured out. But now there are more places for your kids to be in a digital hangout. There are sites that let them write, share, chat, and meet new friends. It was complicated to share photos on Instagram, post secrets on Whisper, and flirt (yes, flirt) on Skout.
You don’t need to know all the apps that are “in” right now (and, you do them they’re probably not “in” either). But knowing some of basics will help you communicate with your teen.
So, below you can find some of the most popular apps and websites for teens.
Kik Messenger is an app that lets kids text for free. It has some cool features, but also some possible safety and privacy issues. Kik adds some kick to “old-fashioned” texting but teens need some guidance on safety and privacy.
Vine is a social media app that lets users post and watch looping six-second video clips. It’s a site that most people post creative, funny, and sometimes thought-provoking videos. But, it’s full of inappropriate videos. There are some clips of full-frontal nudity, a woman with her breasts exposed, and people smoking marijuana. Not only that, but parents may be the next star on Vine. If your teens become the next Spielberg and begin to film your antics, you may want to ask them how they plan to distribute their masterpiece.
Mr. Phelps your mission, if you decide to accept it, is to erase your messages after a set period of time. Unlike many other apps of its kind, Burn Note limits itself to text messages; users cannot send photos or video. This may reduce the sexting, but words can hurt as well. Parents need to know that Burn Note allows kids to communicate secretly through the use of a Deletion Timer that automatically calculates from the message length. However, you don’t need to have the app to receive a Burn Note.
Skout is a flirting app that allows users to sign up as teens or adults. They’re placed in their appropriate peer group, where they can post to a feed, comment on others’ posts, and photos, and chat. Their own website says “many of our users come to Skout to find activity partners and friends” and it’s “100% up to you if you want to make contact with someone.” There’s no registration required to get paired up with strangers; nor is there age verification, but it has a teens-only section.
Over the next few posts we’ll explore more apps and websites to help you understand these tools. Take inventory of your kids’ apps and review the best practices.