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Your Kid’s Digital Footprint

We live in a digital world and we are raising children who will all have some sort of digital footprint as they are growing up. It is hard to keep track of all of the different types of social media platforms that are available these days. Our kids are more tech savvy than ever and they know exactly how to use all the new and trendy apps. So where are your kids on social media? I have provided a cheat sheet below.

Facebook

Facebook is still one of the most used social media platforms in the world. The thing about Facebook is that its scope is so large that it is cross-generational. Everyone from kids to grandparents are using Facebook. This social network not only connects people, but is used as a business tool, an on-line life documentary, and a place to share good news.

The company recently launched Messenger Kids, as a way for kids to communicate with others. This includes a variety of fun sounds and filters. Many parents say they love to hear from their kids in this way. This is pretty safe as the app allows parents to control who the contacts are and it also has a sleep mode, which can be set by parents. 

Twitter

This social media platform is mostly used by kids to follow their favorite celebrities. In doing research for this article, I found that kids themselves are not engaging on Twitter in terms of creating their own posts, but what they are doing is coming to Twitter as a source of pop culture news. They want to have a firsthand look at the lives of their favorite personalities or celebrities and this is exactly where they can get access to that.

Instagram

People love Instagram. A living scrapbook of pictures to define how you are spending your days. Instagram includes everything from food to fashion and all the things in between. Working in higher education, I have a very bittersweet relationship with Instagram. I appreciate how people can have a live photo album of their life, but many tween and teenage students take this too far. First off there are too many teens judging their self-worth based on how many followers and likes they have. Many people use this as a way to over-glamorize their life and competition is inherently created between others – and sometimes friends.

Secondly, don’t let your kids fall into the “Finstagram” trap. A Finstagram is a fake Instagram account. The account is run by a real person but they change their name so that you “perceive” they are unsearchable on the internet. I refer to these as “after dark accounts.” This means that this is where teens are posting what they are doing after dark that they don’t want anyone to know about. Most teens keep these hidden from parents, so it is likely hard to find out about these accounts. Even though the name might be fake this is still adding to a person’s digital footprint. 

Snapchat

This continues to be a hot social media outlet within a younger demographic. Snapchat is a fun way to instantly connect with people. What are your kids loving most? The filters. Fun filters are created and updated often and are funny to try and test out. Honestly with kids, I have seen most of them use this in a pretty safe way. Oddly enough this is noted by high school students as a fun way to flirt with your crush. However as teens get older there are more risks posed with Snapchat in terms of cyber bullying or having their friends video tape things that they wouldn’t necessarily consent to. Be mindful as a parent with this app. It is hard to monitor the messages that are being sent and received, as the point of this app is to only have access to them for a short period of time.

YouTube

Welcome to the “everybody wants to be a STAR” era! If you want your 15 minutes of fame this is the place that you actually might be able to find it! What is fascinating about YouTube is that in all of the research I did for this article I found that children as young as two years old are actively using YouTube. If you are letting your children use electronic devices, it is almost certain that they will run across YouTube. There are children making millions of dollars doing toy reviews, and you can find every single cartoon you could want or need. My recommendation is to use YouTube Kids. There is better control of videos that your kids will have access to. What to watch out for? Subscribers – both who they are subscribing to and who is subscribing to their YouTube channel if they have created one.

Musical.ly

Kids have become obsessed with Musical.ly over the past couple of years. This is a place where kids can create and share music videos. My research shows that this is quickly becoming one of the most popular things to do at sleepovers – make a music video with your friends! Users must be at least 13 years or older and it seems to be pretty safe. That being said make sure that your kids are singing songs that are appropriate and without curse words. Also when using costumes make sure that kids are not mocking any languages or cultures. We would hate for this app to lead to cultural appropriation.

WhatsApp

This is a messaging system that has blown up in the past year. Kids can send messages, videos, and photos. But what really makes this great is you can make voice and video calls with this app by simply using the WIFI. If you are not on an unlimited talk and text plan this can be a good financial move for your kids. When using this app your kids will be able to connect with people from all over the world. That being said, there are pros and cons to this. Children have to make smart decisions about who they allow themselves to connect with on social media.

So this is where kids and teens are now, but where could they be headed next?

Pinterest

Studies show that Pinterest starts to become increasingly popular, particularly for girls, as children begin to enter young adulthood. This is a visual search engine and can be a place for great sources of fashion, saving money, cooking – really all sorts of things!

Quora

This is a question and answer site. People can set up an account and start asking any type of questions they wish to be answered. These questions are then answered by anyone who is wanting to weigh in on the topic. I have a Quora account and answer a lot of questions for other people on Quora. However, there are some interesting questions asked and some interesting answers. As this Q&A site is comprised of people from many different backgrounds there typically isn’t a perfect answer.

Vero

Vero is brand new and just experienced a huge growth a couple of months ago. Vero tries to be a combination of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, offering their users a variety of different ways to communicate with one another. Right now, there are no ads on Vero, which is appealing. Only time will tell how popular this app will become in the next couple of years.

The most important thing you can do is talk to your children about social media safety. Educate them of the risks that can be associated with being online. Make sure you develop open communication that encourages safe social media practices. It is important to remember that your digital footprint will grow and follow you throughout your lifetime. 

What social media platforms do you allow your children to use?

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One Response to Your Kid’s Digital Footprint

  1. Jenn May 29, 2018 at 8:54 AM #

    Great round up of social networking sites. Just a quick note – most of these sites require the users to be 13 years old or older (not just Musical.ly). Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. have an age requirement.

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