Social Media & Apps

There are plenty of good things about social media — but also many risks and things kids and teens should avoid. They don’t always make good choices when they post something to a site, and this can lead to problems.

So it’s important to talk with your kids about how to use social media wisely.

Social Media

These days, most of us access social media via our smartphones or tablets. While this makes it very convenient to keep in touch, it also means that social media is always accessible. This round-the-clock, hyper connectivity can trigger impulse control problems, the constant alerts and notifications affecting Childrens concentration and focus, disturbing their sleep, and making them addicted to their phone.

Social media platforms are designed to snare childrens attention, keep them online, and have them repeatedly checking their screen for updates. It’s how the companies make money.  Much like social media can use and create psychological cravings. When the children receive a like, a share, or a favourable reaction to a post, it can trigger the release of dopamine in the brain, the same “reward” chemical that follows an adult winning on a slot machine, The more children are  rewarded, the more time they want to spend on social media, even if it becomes detrimental to other aspects of their lifes.

Also there is A fear of missing out that can keep them returning to social media over and over again. Even though there are very few things that can’t wait or need an immediate response, A fear of missing out will have them believing otherwise. Perhaps they are worried that they will be left out of the conversation at school or work if they miss the latest news or gossip on social media? Or maybe they feel that they will suffer if they don’t immediately like, share, or respond to other people’s posts? Or they could be worried they will  miss out on an invitation or that other people are having a better time than them.

Many children use social media as a “security blanket”. Whenever they are in a social situation and feel anxious, awkward, or lonely, they turn to their phones and log on to social media. Of course, interacting with social media only denies them the face-to-face interaction that can help ease anxiety but many do not realise that there is also a dark side in social media where predators look for opportunities.Heavy social media use could be masking other underlying problems, such as stress, depression, or boredom. If they spend more time on social media when they are feeling down, lonely, or bored, children may be using it as a way to distract themselves from unpleasant feelings or self-soothe their moods.

What’s Good About Social Media

  • Social media can help kids:
  • stay connected with friends and family
  • volunteer or get involved with a campaign, nonprofit, or charity
  • enhance their creativity by sharing ideas, music, and art
  • meet and interact with others who share similar interests
  • communicate with educators and fellow students


What’s Bad About Social Media

The flipside is that social media can be a hub for things like cyberbullying and questionable activities. Without meaning to, kids can share more online than they should.


Most teens:

  • post photos of themselves online or use their real names on their profiles
  • reveal their birthdates and interests
  • post their school name and the town where they live


This can make them easy targets for online predators and others who might mean them harm.

In fact, many teens say they have:

  • been contacted online by someone they didn’t know in a way that made them feel scared or uncomfortable
  • received online advertising that was inappropriate for their age
  • lied about their age to get access to websites

Concerns and Consequences

Besides problems like cyberbullying and online predators, kids also can face the possibility of a physical encounter with the wrong person. Many newer apps automatically reveal the poster’s location when they’re used. This can tell anyone exactly where to find the person using the app.

And photos, videos, and comments made online usually can’t be taken back once they’re posted. Even when a teen thinks something has been deleted, it can be impossible to completely erase it from the Internet.

Posting an inappropriate photo can damage a reputation and cause problems years later — such as when a potential employer or college admissions officer does a background check. And sending a mean-spirited text, even as a joke, can be very hurtful to someone else and even taken as a threat.

Spending too much time on social media can be a downer too. Seeing how many “friends” others have and the pictures of them having fun can make kids feel bad about themselves or like they don’t measure up to their peers.

What Can Parents Do?

It’s important to be aware of what your kids do online. But snooping can alienate them and damage the trust you’ve built together. The key is to stay involved in a way that makes your kids understand that you respect their privacy but want to make sure they’re safe.

Tell your kids that it’s important to:

  • Be nice. Mean behavior is not OK. Make it clear that you expect your kids to treat others with respect, and to never post hurtful or embarrassing messages. And ask them to always tell you about any harassing or bullying messages that others post.
  • Think twice before hitting “enter.” Remind teens that what they post can be used against them. For example, letting the world know that you’re off on vacation or posting your home address gives would-be robbers a chance to strike. Teens also should avoid posting specific locations of parties or events, as well as phone numbers.
  • Follow the “WWGS?” (What Would Grandma Say?) rule. Teach kids not to share anything on social media that they wouldn’t want their teachers, college admissions officers, future bosses — and yes, grandma — to see.
  • Use privacy settings. Privacy settings are important. Go through them together to make sure your kids understand each one. Also, explain that passwords are there to protect them against things like identity theft. They should never share them with anyone, even a boyfriend, girlfriend, or best friend.
  • Don’t “friend” strangers. “If you don’t know them, don’t friend them.” This is a plain, simple — and safe — rule of thumb.

Make a Contract

Consider making a “social media agreement” with your kids — a real contract they can sign. In it, they agree to protect their own privacy, consider their reputation, and not give out personal information. They also promise not to use technology to hurt anyone else through bullying or gossip.

In turn, parents agree to respect teens’ privacy while making an effort to be part of the social media world. This means you can “friend” and observe them, but don’t post embarrassing comments or rants about messy rooms.

Parents also can help keep kids grounded in the real world by putting limits on media use. Keep computers in public areas in the house, avoid laptops and smartphones in bedrooms, and set some rules on the use of technology (such as no devices at the dinner table).

And don’t forget: Setting a good example through your own virtual behavior can go a long way toward helping your kids use social media safely.

Popular Social Media Venues, Apps, and Sites 

Parents may not be aware of the apps that their children use regularly or may not be aware of the risks involved in using them. There are many ways that cyberbullying can be hidden in apps and sites, such as texts, videos, and web calls that disappear or do not appear on the device’s call or text message logs.

  • Amino: An app that lets users join online communities, chats, forums, and groups on a variety of topics based on their interests.
  • Askfm: A social networking site that allows users to ask other people questions, often anonymously.
  • Calculator%: A secret app that appears harmless, looks like a Calculator but hides photos, videos, files, and browser history.
  • Chatroulette: There are over 20 different chat roulette sites that allow users to instantly connect via webcam and video chat. Sites typically pair the users randomly and instantly.
  • Discord: A voice-over-IP (VOIP) app that allows users to video chat with others, private message, and join, create, or participate in public and private chat rooms. This app is often used by players to chat with each other while playing videogames.
  • Facebook and Facebook Live: The most commonly used social media site that is accessible on many different media platforms.
  • Facebook Messenger Kids: A messaging app and platform for children.
  • Houseparty: A group video chat and social networking app that allows up to eight people to video chat at once in a “room.”
  • Instagram: A photo and video sharing and networking site that connects users through other social networking sites (e.g., Facebook).
  • Kik: Messaging app that allows users of all ages to contact others anonymously.
  • Line: A messaging app that allows users to make free phone calls, leave voice messages, and text. Users can delete texts or chats from recipient’s phone using a timer.
  • LiveMe: A tool to broadcast live-streaming videos and watch other users’ videos.
  • MeetMe: A dating app that connects users to others based on geographic proximity.
  • Omegle: An app that pairs users with strangers in anonymous one-on-one chat sessions.
  • Reddit: A site that stores social news, rates and evaluates web content, and discussion threads.
  • Roblox: An online game platform with free multiplayer games created by users. Roblox allows users to communicate with each other and join groups.
  • Sarahah: An anonymous messaging app that allows users to send anonymous messages to people they may know.
  • Snapchat: A photo messaging app that allows for sharing pictures and short videos that are intended to be erased shortly after delivery.
  • Telegram: Messaging app that allows users to share photos, videos, and files; make calls, and delete texts or chats from recipient’s phone using a timer.
  • TikTok: An app that allows users to create and share their own videos where they lip-synch, sing, dance, or just talk.
  • Tumblr: A social networking site that allows posting of short blogs and media.
  • Twitch: A live stream platform for gamers to watch live stream content, chat, and connect
  • Twitter: A microblogging site that allows users to send, read, and reply to “tweets” or short messages.
  • VSCO: A photography app to capture and edit photos.
  • WeChat: An app that allows user to chat with friends, and to search for people nearby and around the globe.
  • WhatsApp: A private messaging app that allows users to text, send photos, videos, and location information to their contacts.
  • Whisper: An anonymous social media site that allows users to post and share photo and video messages.
  • YouTube: A video sharing platform that allows users to post and share videos.
  • YUBO (formerly YELLOW): An app referred to as the “Tinder for teens” that allows users to swipe right or left to accept or reject the profiles of other users.
  • YouNow: Broadcast, Chat, and Watch Live Video: An app that lets teens broadcast themselves live. They can see and respond to live chat or view other broadcasters and chat with them.