Facebook and Twitter are well known—and highly popular—among adults and teens alike. Yet countless other social media platforms exist, too, and many of them remain unfamiliar to lots of parents. Most of these social media spots are easy to access through a web browser on a PC, Mac, or Windows tablet, as well as via apps for Android and iOS mobile devices. Here are three of the most important ones, with some thoughts about why these places need to be handled with care.
Tumblr is the seventh-most-popular social media platform among 13- to 17-year-olds, according to research by Pew Internet. The platform lets users put together streaming scrapbooks, known as "tumblogs," which might consist of any combination of stories, jokes, photos, cartoons, music, and/or video clips, for instance. Unless users explicitly make their tumblog private, it can be seen by anyone on the web, even people not registered with Tumblr.
The process for making a blog private is quite clunky. The first profile you create is public. To keep your posts private, you must create a password-protectable second profile. Many of Tumblr's teen users are unlikely to bother with the second profile, anyway.
That's because a big goal on Tumblr is to produce content that other users reblog, just as many Twitter users want to be retweeted. Unfortunately, down the line, a kid might regret some of the stories or photos shared through Tumblr.
There's another reason why Tumblr should be handled with care. Although the user interface looks cool, text content can be very informative, and many photos are beautiful, some of the more than 300 million posted blogs contain questionable content such as vulgar language or scenes of violence.
Snapchat ranks number three among social media platforms used by teens, according to Pew, even though it doesn't make the top five among adults (those five are Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter).
For teens who want to keep their posts from going public, Snapchat is a widely used option. The platform lets users set time limits on how long posted content will remain on Snapchat.
Snapshot does have a website, but it's little more than a download site for Snapshot's iOS and Android apps, as you can see in the PC screenshot below. Potentially, a kid could post a silly or otherwise embarrassing photo or video from a friend's house via smartphone and set it to disappear before returning home, where a parent might check the phone.
However, despite a teen's intentions, posted content doesn't necessarily disappear forever. Another user could take a smartphone screenshot of a photo, for example, and then repost it on Snapchat or elsewhere.
This is one of a number of social media platforms that let people stream and watch live video broadcasts. In many (but certainly not all) cases, user conduct the broadcasts from their bedrooms. Kids even post videos showing themselves as they're sleeping. Sometimes, items in their bedrooms display personal information.
YouNow revolves around its own unique, tips-based economy. If you like a particular broadcast, you can purchase "gold bricks" to express appreciation for it, a practice that could put a dent in even the most affluent teen's allowance.
This practice also encourages users to try to earn money from the site and its apps. Bloomberg.com has helped to popularize the tale of how one user, "Mr. Cashier," began earning three times the salary he received from his job at a bodega after streaming videos of his boring life at the store on YouNow.
Since broadcasters can respond to requests from viewers, it's possible for teens to get tempted by the prospect of tips into doing things they wouldn't ordinarily do.
Photo credits: Pixabay.com, Jacqueline Emigh.