Social networking sites are rapidly changing, and it seems as though teens are the first to start the new trends. A few years ago, Facebook took over MySpace, which not only attracted teens, but adults as well. However by now, Facebook is quickly fading, as 94% of American teens are using their Facebook accounts less and are using it more carefully according to a recent study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. This study highlights that teens are sharing more information about themselves on social networks than ever before especially with the new sites that are popular today. Microblogs such as Tumblr, Pheed and Twitter are becoming increasingly popular among teens. Tumblr and Pheed allows teens to express themselves by shaping their own blog website while also following other users of interest. Twitter has also made a remarkable presence among social networks where the site saw a doubling of teen users last year. Twitter attracts users who enjoy reporting timely updates and viewing updates of others (it is similar to reading constant status updates from Facebook). Users have the option of following celebrities, professional athletes, political figures and other media outlets on Twitter to receive reliable updates. Image sharing is also becoming increasingly popular among teens. One noteworthy application is Instagram, which is mobile application, where users can add funky filters to photos and share them among friends. If you are notorious for showing people what you ate for lunch one day, then Instagram is the application for you! Snapchat is the up-and-coming fad where teens send pictures to others that self-destruct after being viewed for a couple of seconds. This application has appealed to many teens, as 150 million snaps are sent per day! As with any other website or application, it is important to remember that “deleting” anything posted digitally may not erase it for good.
Although social media websites and applications may generate a hobby and allow for constant communication and creativity, many people are realizing that there are precautions to be taken. Microsoft released a list of 11 tips for social network safety that outlines how to be protected on social networks. As social networks become an integral part of our lives, younger generations are becoming interested in it as well. Many kids use forms of social networks targeted to children such as Webkinz or Club Penquin (Neopets used to be a popular website as well). However, more and more kids are finding their way onto more sophisticated social websites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube where they are chatting with other users, playing games and posting and browsing photos and videos. Regardless of their activity, kids should understand that social networks could be viewed by anyone on the Internet. Unfortunately, kids on social networks are vulnerable and can be exposed to scams, cyber bullying, and Internet predators. To avoid dangers on the Internet, communication is key. Communication with your child about their experiences and expectations on social networks can help alleviate any nerves and avoid any dangers on the Internet. Limiting personal information on social networks is also suggested, as that has become an easy way to track other users. It is also a good idea to become educated about the social networks that your child is involved in and to create a set of house Internet rules in order to control your child’s activity on the Web.