If you think that friending your kids on Facebook is a great way to keep tabs on their social media activity think again. While Facebook is still the most popular social media platform, many young people have abandoned it for other sites. Even if your kids are still active on Facebook, they may be looking at other sites as well – sites you have never even heard of.
In fact, many teenagers seek out social media platforms their parents are not familiar with. They know that their parents and their parents’ friends are active on Facebook, so they watch what they say when they update their status or post their latest pictures. They may be more candid, however, when engaging on other social networks. If you really want to know what your kids are up to, you need to look beyond Facebook to these other popular platforms.
Many parents have heard of the Yo app, but they may not understand exactly what it is or what it does. The Yo app is pretty simple, so much so that many adults fail to understand its implications.
Users install the Yo app, then select a friend who has the same app. The user then sends a deceptively simple message -namely ‘Yo.” There are no other possible messages; just the word Yo.
This may seem stupid, but the Yo app has quickly become one of the most popular with young people. Teens love to use the Yo site to set up meetings with their friends. Those meetings could be benign, like going out for a bite to eat. On the other hand, they could be more nefarious, like an invitation to buy drugs or attend and underage drinking party. Parents need to watch their kids with a cautious eye, especially if that casual “Yo” turns into an unexplained disappearance or a sudden need to go out.
If your kids are fashion conscious or aspire to be trendsetters, you need to know about the Wanelo site. The name is a play on the terms “Want, Need, Love” and the site is all about shopping and creating demand.
Wanelo is a social shopping site that connects millions of users with more than 150,000 stores. Both commercial sites and ordinary users can post pictures of products they find online. The site can be useful, especially if you are in the market for a new dress or pair of shoes, but it can be addictive as well.
Teens in particular can get caught up in the consumerist action on Wanelo, and that could lead to an empty bank account and years of debt. If your kids are on Wanelo, you might want to talk to them about smart spending and the difference between a need and a want.
If your kids got their social media start on Facebook, they are probably already familiar with sharing (and oversharing), but the Whisper site takes things a step further. Unlike Facebook, where friends share everything from favorite recipes to family secrets, the Whisper site lets users share their innermost hopes and dreams with anonymous strangers.
The troubling implications of the Whisper site are all too apparent. While many people find the site cathartic and even therapeutic, teens may not be ready for the revelations of others, and they may not realize the long-term consequences of sharing their own fantasies and intimate secrets with others.
In addition to those concerns, some of the images available on the Whisper site are a bit on the suggestive side. If you hear your kids talking about their Whisper experiences, you might want to have a frank conversation about the site and its potential dangers.
The slogan of the Omegle social network site should tell parents all they need to know. The site advertises itself as a place to talk to strangers, and if that should be enough to give any parent pause.
The idea of chatting with strangers can be particularly attractive to teens, who often feel alien alienated from family members, classmates and all but their closest friends. The idea of logging on to a site where they can share text messages, videos and photos with understanding strangers can be almost irresistible.
Most parents told their young kids not to talk to strangers, but they may need to repeat those lessons to their teens. Talking honestly about the dangers of sites like Omegle is important, especially since the site has been experiencing significant growth among young people.
European teenagers have been using the Ask.fm site for years, but this social media outlet is just starting to make a splash on the other side of the Atlantic. Similar to sites like Ask.com and Yahoo! Answers, the Ask.fm site allows users to ask and answer questions from one another.
While the Ask.fm site can be a useful resource, it is easy to see why many parents are nervous about it. Teens can use the Ask.fm site to ask about virtually anything, including sex, drugs and other inappropriate topics.
In addition to those concerns, the Ask.fm site has few privacy controls, meaning that virtually anything posted is available for public view. Anyone who has ever been embarrassed by an ill-timed Facebook post or tweet will understand the dangers posed by a lack of privacy controls. Teens may not yet understand the long-term implications of their social media presence; it is up to their parents to teach them the dangers.
The importance of social media in young peoples’ lives is only expected to grow in the coming years. Social media engagement can teach young people valuable lessons but it can also be fraught with peril. Parents need to keep a close eye on the social media habits of their kids, and that means learning about the new sites and knowing where there kids are spending their time.
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