(Please contact me if anyone is interested in me speaking to the staff and administration in their school district, religious or community organization.)
One thing that has been constant since smart phones and apps were first debuted is their popularity among children, teens and adults.
Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development still hold true with the main stage being between the ages of 13 and 21 which is Identity vs Role Confusion. We’re all seeking to define our identity. Social Media is playing an ever-growing part of that identity for children and teens.
(See this article from PsychologyNotesHQ.com for a great in depth explanation of the stages)
Our children don’t want us to know everything they are doing, just like we didn’t want our parents to be a part of or know everything we did. It’s necessary for their development for them to separate and develop autonomy…
But it should be within reason.
I don’t want to get bogged down or sidetracked with
“The kids these days” or “Back in my day”…
There is some validity to that mindset. We could easily have an entire discussion on that one and I’d be happy to do that in the comments section; but, what I really want this post to be is education about current apps, trends and what to do about them. I will revisit this post in the future and update the information as it changes.
The main types of social media apps fall into a couple of categories: Messaging, Microblogging, Live Streaming, Self Destructing and Dating. However, they are increasingly designing apps to be one-stop shopping apps so that you can do everything inside of one app whereas they were previously more niche.
So without further ado:
The Top 5 Apps Your Teens are Using:
- Facebook and Facebook Messenger – Ok, this one is no surprise and unless you’ve been on another planet for the past 2 decades, I’m assuming you know about these.
Jeff Dunn’s BusinessInsider.com article quoted Facebook at 2,006 Million and FB Messenger at 1,200 Million monthly active users. Taking up the #1 and #3 spot.
What you need to pay attention to is the trend that more and more teens are getting off of FB and going to other messaging apps to break away from FB which is viewed as something their parents use. But obviously, they are far and away the most popular with their Facebook Live feeds, ads and darkposting. They have become the Budweiser of the tech world in that they will either create their own app to compete with yours or they’ll buy you out and take over.
With FB Live it allows a person to stream video content live, which can be great for staying current on things and helps an audience feel more connected. However, it also allows for streaming negative content, such as school fights, bullying, self-injury or even suicide.
2. WhatsApp – This is a messaging app that is continuing to gain in popularity as it allows for text messaging and sharing photos, videos and phone calls through wifi so that no data plan is necessary.
One issue is that it’s possible for a person to get ahold of a phone that has no data plan or minutes. However, when they are within wifi it is possible to use apps like WhatsApp to call and text as well as use other features. Furthermore, if a teen gets access to their parents AppleID they can download these apps onto their own phone without the parent even being aware.
WhatsApp gained notoriety in March 2017 as Khalid Masood reportedly used it to send a message moments before committing the London terror attacks killing four people and wounding numerous others. It offers end-to-end encryption and 2-factor authentication and has been involved in legal suits with British and US governments (along with other apps) who want access to the messages.
BusinessInsider listed it as the #2 with 1,300 Million monthly users. It’s popular among teens because of the ability to download and use it without needing a data plan and because it’s not FB…However, FB acquired the app in 2014. So that means Facebook currently owns the #1,2 and 3 most popular apps…but shhhhh, don’t ruin the surprise by telling the kids.
3. Instagram – Another more widely recognized and used social networking app that focuses on photo and video sharing as well as live video streaming.
They are listed at 700 Million monthly users. Things to note, “when your profile is created and set to public, anyone can find and view your profile, along with all your photos and videos.” Elise Moreau, Lifewire No matter how private you set things, nothing is foolproof as we have seen countless times with identity theft and hacking over the past 2 years. Can you say Equifax?
4. Twitter – a microblogging app that allows you to send short messages of 140 characters or less as well as follow other users.
Popular because of how widespread it’s use has become, the coining of the hashtag # into popular culture usage, and the ability to follow celebrities and other popular media figures.
5. Snapchat – Probably the most popular self-destruct messaging app. Popular for the multiple filters, ability to take and send pictures as well as videos and add text and graphics to those images.
The major things to pay attention to with Snapchat are the screenshots you can take. When using Snapchat the sender is notified if a screenshot is taken; however, if the receiver is using a mirroring app no notification is sent (more on that in a minute). Other issues are in updates to the app you can agree to turn on location settings without being aware. Third is the prevalence of inappropriate material being sent and screenshot, which prompted them to raise their age restrictions.
Mirroring Apps – Apps like Casper, SnapCrack, SaveMySnaps and SnapBox are available for both Android and iOS. They allow you to open Snapchats and save screenshots without the sender being notified.
Now, I don’t want to give the impression that all technology or even all apps are bad. Or that all teenagers are going to snap sexual pics of themselves and send them to strangers. But the positives and negatives as well as staying close to the cutting edge of the trends is something that parents and authority figures need to be more aware of. Conversations with our kids need to be happening about social media and its place in our homes and lives.
What are the apps you use the most? What about your kids?
Why? What do they allow you to do?
How do you see their impact on the world around us?
I’m going to take the next post to break down the different types of apps and popular apps within each of those genres before moving on to resources for what to do about the negatives as well as explaining Technology Addiction in more detail.