Social Media Safety

Hundreds of social media apps exist both on the app store and online. Some of these apps are just general social media like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. Some are anonymous apps in which teens can talk, send messages, and even post statuses anonymously. Some of these apps include Sarahah, TBH, and Whisper. Others include dating sites, teen dating apps, and other dangerous teen related apps.

Types of Social Media

Temporary Apps: let users send messages, photos and videos that self-destruct after a set period of time. This includes apps like Snapchat. 69% of young adults (18-24) use Snapchat! Burn Note and Line are other apps that erase messages after a set time. Line has 218 million active monthly users.

Anonymous Apps: Anonymous apps allow users to post comments, images, and messages without revealing their identity, age, or location. 28 million teens use Ask FM to ask questions anonymously and millions of teens connect apps to Snapchat such as Sarahah where users can swipe up on a Snapchat story to send the user and anonymous comment. Omegle is one of the worlds most dangerous anonymous chat services, where it's filled with sexual content, drug references and violence. Over 40% of users are under the age of 18.

Most Popular Teen Social Media Apps: Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter are among the most used social media platforms by teenagers.

Most Common

Messaging Apps

  • Kik Messenger: Kik lets you send texts, pictures, and video to anyone who you choose to message with. It also allows you to make calls to possible strangers. Users don't have to reveal real names, so there's a layer of anonymity, as their username can be anything.

  • Snapchat: Snapchat is a messaging app that lets users put a time limit on the pictures and videos they send before they disappear. It's often thought that the pictures sent are gone after they disappear, but this is not always true. Whenever anything is sent online, it never truly goes away. The person on the receiving end can easily take a screenshot of the image before it disappears, and now your private image is no longer private.

  • Facebook: Facebook is known to most through the app, but it also comes with Facebook Messenger, which is one of the number one used messaging apps in 2018.

  • Instagram: Instagram is a photo and video sharing site, but users are also able to message their followers and any random account that they'd like, so long as the other account isn't private.

  • Twitter: Twitter isn't often used as a messaging app, however many teens do use the app to send messages to other Twitter users.

  • MeetMe: MeetMe is a social network that differentiates itself from others because it introduces people to new friends instead of connecting them to existing ones.

Most Common

Anonymous Apps

  • Sarahah - Sarahah  has become popular in middle and high schools. Users (and non-users) receive comments about them on a personal profile page. It is not typically moderated and teenagers can send whatever they want for the most part. Teens often connect the app with Snapchat, another social media site.

  • TBH - Short for “To Be Honest,” this app is aimed at teens and college students. The app is supposed to be for compliments. Kids take polls and quizzes and questions about them may be sent to people in their contacts list.

  •  Ask.fm - In this teen oriented social platform, users can ask questions of others anonymously or not, but all answers are anonymous. It also connects with other social media platforms to invite people you know to follow you.

  • After School - After School is an app aimed mainly at high schoolers, where teenagers can pick their school and can then post anonymous things about other people in their school. The app is often filled with teens saying things about other teens, either a compliment or a rude comment.

  • Whisper: A social "confessional" app that allows users to post whatever's on their minds. Users type a confession, add a background image, and share it with the Whisper community.

  • Omegle - An anonymous chatting website through which teens can discuss anything they'd like. Its conversations are often filled with bad language and references to sexual content, drugs and alcohol, and even violence.

Most Common Social Media Apps

  • Facebook: Your teenager is probably a Facebook user, as many are. Teens typically feel the need to maintain a profile there, even if they are not very active on the site. For best results on Facebook, do not engage your teen. On Facebook, users can post statuses, pictures, videos, and other things such as websites or business related things. Hundreds of thousands of users are under the required age of thirteen, so the app is very populated with underage children.

  • Instagram: This photo editing and sharing app is very popular with teenagers and is primary used for sharing selfies and nature related pictures. Instagram allows users to edit and post photos taken on their phone, and the images are publicly visible by default. Like Facebook, there are a lot of underage kids on the app.

  • Twitter: Twitter offers quick connection with anyone in the world. Users post updates in 140 characters or less. They can follow and be followed, as well as block other users from seeing what they post, but parents can also see what kids are posting without connecting, so long as they are not blocked. Because images can be posted, all the same dangers of Instagram apply. Remember, too, that if your teen doesn’t want you to see their posts, they can simply start a new account and not tell you about it.

  • Pinterest: Pinterest organizes users around interests. Users create boards, which are like digital bulletin boards where favorite content is “pinned.” It's incredibly popular ith teens and adults.

  • Vine: On Vine, users create and post 6-second videos, which are often also shared on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Expect inappropriate content here including sexually explicit material and suggestive drug use.

  • Reddit: Reddit users submit links or text, which are voted up or down by other users. This site is typically much more more popular with males.

  • Tumblr: Tumblr enables blogging for those interested in reading and writing blogs on various topics. Photo, audio, and video posts are often re-shared from other sites.

VSCO Safety

VSCO is a photography app where you can create an account and upload or take photos, edit and add filters, and share them with other in-app users or on other social media sites such as Instagram. Links to VSCO accounts are often found in Instagram bios because teenagers post them there so others will easily find it.

VSCO users can't comment on or like other users' pictures so there is limited social interaction on the site.  You can however, share your photos to other social networking sites where users will be able to share, like, and comment on the picture. Privacy settings are very limited on VSCO. Users don’t have the option to make their accounts private, which gives the site very few privacy options.

Very few parents are aware of VSCO so teenagers often use it to share their riskier photos which can range from pictures taken at parties to selfies dressed inappropriately.

MeetMe Safety

MeetMe is a social network that was created so teenagers can be introduced to new friends. MeetMe users can create a profile using either an email address or Facebook account. Once you create an account, you will be able to see profile pictures and basic information about other teenagers who live nearby you. Users can also browse through the news feed of people nearby, which is similar to Facebook statuses. There are over one hundred million MeetMe users and a large portion of them are between the ages of thirteen and seventeen.

MeetMe is often filled with predators posing as teenagers and profile verification is not required, so predators have an easier time maintaining an account on the site.

Even though the site was created for teens to meet new friends, it's used by most teenagers to find dates and romantic relationships. This poses an even bigger danger for teenagers, because online predators will use this to their advantage.