First comes the iPhone, and then come the barrage of requests for Facebook and Instagram accounts. Parents with children as young as 8 years old have come to expect such requests, but what about other social media platforms that you may not be aware of? We checked into seven popular social media sites (besides the usual Facebook/Twitter/Instagram) and outlined the purposes and risks so you can be a step ahead of your junior tech guru.
Video chat, unlimited voice calls, instant messaging, and even screen sharing make this platform a popular download for kids who may not have a phone, but DO have an app-capable iOS or Android device or Mac or PC home computer with webcam. More than 75 million people are registered Oovoo users, but the marketing is definitely geared toward tweens and teens with a tagline saying, “Survive family time with the free video chat that’s got your back 24/7.”
NEED TO KNOW: Safety on this app is a matter of knowing those with whom your child is chatting and discussing the permanence of pictures and material that are shared on the web.
After creating a profile, users field anonymous questions from all over the world. Kids may search existing user names to find friends, but remain totally anonymous to ask questions. The concept may seem superfluous to adults, but kids are captivated by the meld of curiosity and anonymity provided by Qooh.me and Ask.fm.
NEED TO KNOW: Sites like these have garnered negative attention as enablers for cyber-bullying.
“A place to express yourself,” promises the platform that offers voice notes, music, photos, videos and texting capability. Users create a channel for their visual streams and can determine the level of privacy used to protect the channel. Editing capabilities give Pheed a creative edge that image-conscious teens find appealing. Revisiting topics related to web-appropriateness, online footprint and being cognizant about followers are keys to ensuring safety on this social up-and-comer.
NEED TO KNOW: According to Pheed’s Terms and Conditions, users must be 13 years and older.
Basic texting is old school when compared to this instant messaging app with built in browsing capability. Kik is a third-party option that allows users to text on smartphones or web-accessible iPods without actually divulging the number associated with the device. For third-party messaging, we like Kik’s commitment to chatting safer.
NEED TO KNOW: Users must approve requests to initiate any type of chatting and can block or ignore other users.
Snapchat initially made waves by marketing itself as a safe way to “sext.” Snaps, or user-shared pictures and videos, are programmed to self-destruct a few seconds after opening and notify users if an image was captured via screenshot. Snapchat holds major appeal for kids who want to send silly pictures to each other, but it hasn’t quite outgrown its original sexting notoriety.
NEED TO KNOW: For more family-friendly appeal, start your child out with SnapKidz, a photo platform that allows fun editing options but no social media aspect.
Capture something in 6 seconds and watch it continuously loop. Vine is the video platform for humorists and anyone who appreciates brevity. Entire websites are dedicated to the “best” Vine videos, including everything from lighthearted to ewww. Because Vine is owned by Twitter, Twitter also happens to be the social network of choice for users to share their Vines.
NEED TO KNOW: If your child isn’t on Twitter, the social aspect of Vine can be explored via text, email and Facebook.
While we think Tinder should be relegated to the 18+ crowd, the social media app has set its minimum age recommendation at 13. The social media platform accesses a user’s Facebook profile and smart phone location services to instigate potential “matches.” Photos, relative location and interests are on full display. The end goal for Tinder is to meet new romantic interests within a 50-mile radius, which is best left to the daring college set.