As leaders and as parents, we need to know what’s happening in the world of our tweens and teens – but keeping up with all the social networking sites out there is almost a full-time job. Yet, when your child asks if he can join a site (like his friends are doing) or a kid at Awana asks what you think about a site – you need to have information.
So, here’s a review of some of the most popular.
*Snapchat’s feature is that the drawing, pictures, videos and texts can be seen for only 1-10 seconds and then they “disappear.” Many younger kids use Snapchat and they often assume they can send a provocative picture/video or message and it will vanish within seconds – therefore, Snapchat can be used for sexting. But this isn’t a true picture. Even with a minimal amount of tech knowledge, the picture can be retrieved, plus someone can simply snap a picture of the Snapchat image and save it that way.
*WeChat started in China but is now international and is the world’s largest mobile phone messaging and communication app – with more than 300 million users.
*Kik is a messaging site that has no parental controls and is private. Unfortunately that means random strangers can contact or send pictures to your kids. Also, people go on the site trolling for kids and introducing themselves in inappropriate ways.
*Ask.fm – This site allows someone to ask a question anonymously. Unfortunately, this has created questions such as “Am I ugly?” or “Do you think she is ugly?” This site has been behind some of the cyber-bullying cases and there are reports that some of that bullying led to victims committing suicide.
Qooh.me – Like Ask.fm, Quoh.me users can ask anonymous questions of whomever they want. The site has no age restriction, so children’s profiles are next to adults. And anyone can use it, so if an inappropriate question is being asked, you can’t trace it. Again, this site is often used for cyber-bullying.
Pheed allows people to livestream their activities. If used correctly, that’s good. However in the hands of a tween/teen who doesn’t always think about consequences, this could easily get out of hand.
Creepy allows someone to track your moves via your statuses on Twitter and Facebook – a good reason to caution your kids about sharing too much information about their whereabouts and activities.
Again – just a short review to keep you aware.