How Tweens & Teens Are Using Social Media

Oct 08, 2016

According to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey, about teens and social media usage, 92 percent of teens, aged 13 to 17, reported being online on a daily basis. Of those teens, 24 percent reported going online constantly, which is unsurprising, as 88 percent of American teens have access to a mobile device.

While Facebook remains the most popular social platform, most teens and tweens are only using Facebook for messaging capabilities and the ability to easily communicate in Facebook groups. Platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Tumblr are where kids are spending the majority of their time on social media, so let’s take a look at the platform where your kids are spending their time.

Pew Research Center reports a whopping 52 percent of teens using Instagram to share personal photos, videos and conduct conversations. With the default account setting set to “public”, you want to have a discussion with your children before managing the settings you feel appropriate. This is the perfect opportunity to discuss the importance of being aware of the digital footprint your child is leaving, by participating in social media platforms, and negative impact a careless post can have on their future.

Those of you with daughters on Instagram will want to be more vigilant, as girls are 61 percent more likely to use the platform than boys. With young Instagram users relating the number of likes on their photos to feelings of popularity (or unpopularity) and self-worth, you want to be checking in with your child regularly.

With Pew Research Center reporting 41 percent of teens using Snapchat regularly, this platform definitely needs to be on your radar. Snapchat is one of the platforms that boasts Houdini disappearing acts, with short videos and photos only appearing on the platform for a limited amount of time.

Because posts are seemingly short-lived, Snapchat is a popular platform. By all appearances, Snapchat can be a private, or seemingly short-lived platform, screenshots can be taken during sessions and used to defame or bully others. While the majority of kids are using Snapchat to be silly and have fun with their friends, you want to make sure that you’re checking-in with your child regularly.

Twitter still hasn’t totally caught on with the younger set, with Pew reporting that 33 percent of teens using the platform. A microblogging platform, Twitter users share tweets, or updates, comprised of 140 characters or less. In my own opinion, Twitter is a platform to watch carefully with your child, as it is incredibly easy for users to hide behind fake profiles and cyber bully or attack others quickly and succinctly.

Twitter profiles can be set to private, but many teens like the global aspect of the platform, allowing them to interact, follow, and be followed, by people around the world.

Not quite as popular as other social platforms, 14 percent of teens use Tumblr. Another microblogging platform, Tumblr is highly visual and utilizes re-blogging in a similar fashion as retweeting. Tumblr accounts are anonymous, which can be both good and bad for parents of teens. It’s difficult to create a private account, with users required to establish a user account first, and then create their private account as an additional offshoot.

Teens and tweens on Tumblr are highly likely to encounter inappropriate content, as it is extremely common on the site. The great thing about Tumblr is that popularity is not based upon appearance, but based upon content users share; if anything, Tumblr is the one platform where insecure teens and tweens can truly feel comfortable to be themselves.

Parental Involvement
CNN’s special report, #Being13, highlighted the importance of parental involvement once children enter the realms of social media. It’s interesting to note that CNN found that increased parental involvement countered the negative experiences children had online (hurtful gossip, feelings of exclusion, etc.), bolstering the fact that the more you are involved in your child’s online life, the more positive their experiences will be. Parental control software, like Net Nanny, allows parents to set appropriate boundaries and visibility for both online and app activity for your family. Parents can customize settings to receive alerts when harmful activity is detected such as hate speech or cyberbullying, as well as block websites or apps.