Growing Up Digital
Social Media Facts

Social media is used by teens to follow what their friends are saying and doing. For some teens social media activity affirms their popularity. For others, social media use can have a negative impact on their emotional well-being.

How many teens are using social media?
According to the Pew Research Center, Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015:

  • 92% of teens reported going online daily; 24% reported going online constantly.
  • For teens 13 – 17 the most popular social media platforms are Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter.
  • 90% of teens with phones text; 73% of teens have smartphones; 33% of teens with Smartphones have lesser-known messaging apps.
  • Girls use social media sites, particularly visually-oriented ones, much more than boys; boys are more likely to play video games.

What can parents do?
From the CNN Special Report, “Being 13: Inside the Secret World of Teens”

  • Sign up on the social networks teens are using and follow them to gain a better sense of the media and its impact.
  • For many teens, social media is stressful because it indicates popularity or lack of, at a time when teens are vulnerable.

Try to reduce the stress. Talk about social media and popularity. Encourage teens to put their phones down from time to time and involve themselves in other activities.

Baltimore County Public Schools Position
The BCPS network blocks most social media sites for students. Sites for teachers are blocked if they contain inappropriate content.  The guidance provided to staff can be found HERE.

While apps like Facebook and Instagram are familiar to many parents, new social media apps appear from time to time with other risks. Common Sense Media reviews the apps and explains the dangers.


Kik Messenger is an app that lets teens text for free. Because it’s an app, the texts do not show up on the text messaging service.
What parents need to know

  • Strangers can communicate with teens. The app is for users 17 and older. Users can also send photos of themselves.
  • Loaded with ads and in-app-purchases. It encourages teens to spend.

ooVoo is a free video, voice, and messaging app. Users can have group chats with up to 12 people for free.
What parents need to know

  • You can only chat with approved friends. Users can only communicate with those on their approved contact lists.
  • Can be distracting depending how it is used while studying or doing homework.

WhatsApp lets users send text messages, audio messages, videos, and photos to one or many people with no message limits or fees.
What parents need to know

  • WhatsApp is for users 16 and over.
  • It can be pushy. After you sign up, it automatically connects you to all the people in your address book who also are using WhatsApp. It also encourages you to add friends who haven't signed up yet.

Instagram lets users share photos and 15-second videos, either publicly or with a private network of followers. Users can apply filters and special effects.
What parents need to know

  • Teens try to get "likes." Some teens may be posting as a way to be popular.
  • Public photos are the default. Photos and videos shared are public unless the default setting is changed.
  • Private messaging is now an option. Instagram Direct allows users to send "private messages" to up to 15 mutual friends.

Tumblr allows users to post multimedia and other content to a short-form blog.
What parents need to know

  • Sexually explicit material is easy to find.
  • Privacy can be guarded but only through an awkward workaround. A second profile must be created if full privacy is wanted. The first profile is public and cannot be password-protected.
  • Posts are often copied and shared.

Twitter is a microblogging tool that allows users to post brief, 140-character messages -- called "tweets" -- and follow other users' activities. It is not only for adults; teens like using it to share tidbits and keep up with news and celebrities.
What parents need to know


Vine is a social media app that lets users post and watch looping six-second video clips. These videos are often
creative and funny.
What parents need to know

  • To download the app, iTunes users must be at least 17. Videos may contain sexual content and nudity.
  • Default settings are for public. Setting them to private will let you approve followers who can view your posts.

YouNow: Broadcast, Chat, and Watch Live Video is a live broadcasting platform. Users can create a live video broadcast or watch channels created by others. Users earn points and gain higher levels by sharing popular broadcasts and active viewing. Their gamified point system makes it engaging to teens. YouNow has rules forbidding harassment, nudity, on-screen substance use, and posting of private information.
What parents need to know

  • Restricts use to age 13 and older
  • Teens might make poor decisions to gain popularity. Even with its rules, since it's live video, kids can do or say anything and can respond to requests from viewers.
  • Personal information could be accidentally shared. Broadcasts might include glimpses of phone numbers, names, or addresses. Teens might also share information with a viewer, not knowing who else may be watching.

Burn Note is a messaging app that erases messages after a set period of time. Unlike many other apps of this sort, it limits itself to text messages; users cannot send pictures or video.
What parents need to know

  • Allows teens to communicate privately. Uses Spotlight to reveal only part of the message at a time to prevent copying or others from reading the message.

Snapchat is a messaging app that lets users put a time limit on the pictures and videos they send before they disappear.
What parents need to know

  • Snapchats can be captured. There are apps that capture Snapchat pictures
  • Snapchat can make sexting seem temporary. The seemingly risk-free messaging might encourage users to share sexually explicit images.

Whisper is an anonymous social network app that allows users to post whatever is on their minds, paired with an image. Revealing whispers make teens especially vulnerable to predators.
What parents need to know

  • Whispers encourages the sharing of secrets. The anonymity encourages cyberbullying and sexual messages. Personal information may be exchanged during chats.
  • Has an age restriction of 17. However teens under 17 are using it.
  • Easy for users to misrepresent themselves. People can pose as others to gain trust and establish relationships.

Yik Yak is a free social-networking app that lets users post brief, anonymous comments to the other users around them. The anonymity and ability to post to others in the immediate area have led to cyberbullying and threats. It is very popular
among teens.
What parents need to know

  • The app reveals your location. Others can see where the post is coming from.
  • Commenting is unmoderated. Voting up or down encourages teens to post messages that shock.
  • Anonymous users can be tracked by police.

Meetme is a social network for meeting people. Teens 13 and older can register.
What parents need to know

  • Meetme is an open network. Users can chat with whomever's online, as well as search locally, opening the door to potential trouble.
  • Lots of details are required. First and last name, age, and ZIP code are requested at registration, or you can log in using a Facebook account.
  • Risky for teens. Much of the social interaction is geared towards meeting up with others.

Omegle is a chat site (and app) that puts two strangers together in their choice of an anonymous text chat or a video chat room. Personal information can be shared. Content is unmoderated.
What parents need to know

  • Users get paired up with strangers. That's the whole premise of the app. There is no registration required.
  • This is not an app for teens. Many of the chats and videos are of a sexually explicit.

Skout is a flirting app that allows users to sign up as teens or adults. They're then placed in the appropriate peer group, where they can post to a feed, comment on others' posts, add pictures, and chat.
What parents need to know

  • Skout has a teens-only section that is moderated.
  • There is no age verification. This makes it easy for a teen to say he or she is older than 18 and an adult to say he or she is younger.

Tinder is a photo and messaging dating app for browsing pictures of potential matches within a certain-mile radius of the user's location. Teens 13 and older can use Tinder.
What parents need to know

  • Emphasis on meeting strangers face to face is inappropriate for teens. Many adults users use it purposely to find sexual encounters.
  • Geolocation means it is possible for teens to meet up with nearby people, which can be very dangerous.

Resources
Why some 13-year-olds check social media 100 times a day
How do I keep up with the latest social apps and sites teens are using?
Facebook, Instagram, and Social
Popular App Guide for Parents and Teachers

Videos
5 Social Media Rules for Teens and Tweens
3 Teen Trends in Social Media

©2017 Baltimore County Public Schools. All rights reserved. This site is optimized for 1280 display resolution and for use with the latest versions of most browsers.