Given how much of young people’s lives in the 21st century involves the use – or abuse – of social media (or should that be anti-social media?), today I’m starting a series of blogs about social media. In them, we’ll
- try to get parents up to speed on some of the apps (applications),
- look at the pros and cons of social media, as viewed by a 13 year old,
- consider cyber-bullying and how to deal with it,
- look at the issue of screen addiction, and
- think about the impact that smartphones are having, not only on our lives, but, apparently, also on our brains!
The first in this series has been written by Ernie, a 13 year old aspiring blogger living in Hertfordshire. If you don’t know your Instachat from your Snapppygram, or your hashtag from your Emoji, this guide to social media for parents might be just the thing.
So here is Ernie’s guide to social media – for parents (with some added material from me at the end).
Snapchat is an app that allows you to view what your friends are doing and to let others know what you’re doing. It’s so popular due to it’s simplicity. Your snaps are saved onto what’s called a ‘story’. You can film videos and take pictures to add to your story, and you can also view others’ stories too. Snaps can only be up to 10 seconds long. You can also privately send snaps or just messages to others and to more than one person at once. When you send a snap to someone and they send one back on a daily basis, you get a ‘streak’. A streak is a number which means the number of days that you and that person have snapped each other. Snaps disappear after 24 hours which is a unique element to Snapchat.
Instagram is what most people use: Teens, adults, young adults. It’s an app where you can post photos or videos onto your account for others to view and to like it if they choose. These posts will remain on your profile page until deleted. They will all show up along with your number of followers, posts and the number of people you are following. If you follow someone, their posts will always appear on your ‘feed’, which is where all the pictures you, and the people you follow, have posted recently. Instagram can be used to: Keep updated with the news, football, music, there’s really an account for everything. Instagram has recently released a new feature which is extremely similar to Snapchat’s ‘stories’ feature.
Twitter is slightly different to Snapchat and Instagram. It has a feed and profile page like Instagram but Twitter is less about posting photos and videos, but more about posting a ‘status’ . A status is usually lots of simple things that aren’t necessarily always hugely important or meaningful. It’s used for seeing what your friends or celebrities are doing or thinking. On Instagram, you must post a picture to write something on your page, however on Twitter you can just type something and put it out there without an image. The statuses posted are called tweets. Although it’s fairly uncommon to post a video or image, this doesn’t mean you can’t do either because you can. Retweeting is when you have liked someone else’s tweet and have reposted it to your account for others to see that individual’s original tweet.
So what else?
There are countless other social media apps that you might have come across, like What’s App (www.whatsapp.com) that I’m sure you’ve heard of. This allows you to send texts to individuals or groups and post pictures and videos – all without using your monthly text allowance and at no cost (if on wifi) when out of the country. Then there’s Houseparty (www.houseparty.com), so you can chat with a bunch of friends and contacts all at the same time, with friends of friends being able to join your ‘party’. How about music.ly (https://www.musical.ly) for creating music videos and sharing with your friends. If you’re into gaming, how about Roblox (https://www.Roblox.com)and Minecraft (https://minecraft.net), which have both a social and gaming element and appear to be particularly popular with boys. And let’s not forget Facebook too (www.facebook.com), although this seems less popular with the under 20s than with their parents!
What are your teens and tweens’ favourite social media platforms? What concerns, if any, do you have about your child’s use of social media? Look out for the next blog in this series . . . .