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What Social Media Apps and Sites are Popular with Kids these days?

Social media has many positive attributes but there’s no denying potential dangers such as reputation damage and exposure to predators, identity thieves and cyber bullies. New social media sites crop up regularly and it’s challenging keeping up with them, let alone worrying about what children are doing on them. Below are some popular sites that kids (and adults) are using these days that parents should know about:


What is InstagramInstagram 
is a photo-sharing service that allows photos to be enhanced with filters and then easily posted from smart phones to the web. Dangers exist when inappropriate photos are posted, strang­ers are followed or inappropriate comments are made or received.


snapchat appSnapchat lets users send photos and videos that disappear in 2 to 10 seconds after being accessed.  However, Snapchats can be captured via screenshots and cameras and shared on other social media sites therefore users counting on disappearance have a false sense of security.


Burn Notes disappear after a short period of timeBurn Note  is like a text version of Snapchat.  Messages are posted on the site and sent to specific email addresses. Recipients have 60 seconds to read messages before they are deleted from the server. A false sense of security is provided because messages can be captured via screenshots.


Dangers of TextfreeTextfree is one of many smart phone applications that allow texting within the app rather than through the phone. Texts are free and don’t show up in texting records which means parents cannot review or monitor them. The lack of parental supervision is conducive to sexting, texting at school and to other inappropriate text conversa­tions.


Dangers of SpillitSpillit lets users post questions for family, friends, and strangers to answer openly or anonymously. Facebook and smart phone apps increase the range of people that can provide answers. The anonymous commenting feature of Spillit is conducive to cyber bullying because comments are not posted in commenters’ profiles and tracking of history is challenging.


is a mobile phone app by Twitter that allows users to record and easily upload 6 second videos to social networking sites. Sites such as Twitter do not ban pornography so Vine can encourage posting of sexually explicit videos. Using Vine can also lead to posting of inappropriate behavior such as bullying, drink­ing and drug use.


The dangers of ask.fmAsk.fm
 is a popular question and answer site that allows users to post questions about numerous topics. Ask.fm is conducive to cyber bullying because kids often post questions regarding physical appearance and they sometimes use their own or their friends’ names in posts. Kids can inadvertently tarnish their reputations and put themselves at risk by asking questions about illegal or illicit activities. “Where can I purchase a fake ID to buy alcohol?” is an example of a question that can jeopardize college acceptance.


Dangers of TumblrTumblr is a “microblog­ging” site known for short posts. It is easy to post updates, photos and videos and users can create sites for specific purposes such as a site dedicated to a cause or a celebrity. Tumblr can also be conducive to cyber bullying because a site can be dedicated to making fun of another child, for example. There are no age limits on Tumblr and its ease of use makes impulsive and questionable posts more common than on traditional websites. Tumblr does not allow users to make their blogs private, however, there are options to lock individual posts.


The dangers of Keek

Keek is an application for posting brief videos and it requires Twitter or Facebook access. Videos appear as status updates and like Vine, Keek can encourage impulsive and inappropriate posting, including sexu­ally explicit content which is not banned on Twitter. Privacy is minimal because having private Twitter or Facebook accounts does not prevent others from re-posting or re-tweeting videos. Keek can be used to network with strangers across the world and it provides opportunity for cyber predators and bullies to seek out and target victims.


Dangers of Social Media

Photo courtesy of teenquest.org

Kids and adults become vulnerable when they provide personal information such as full names, birthdays and addresses on social media.  Users are also at risk when posting, commenting on or forwarding inappropriate photos, videos, texts and posts including those that are sexually explicit, those that show drinking or drug use and those that are of illegal or unethical activity such as bullying or rape.

Regardless of privacy settings and promises of self-destruction or manual deletion, inappropriate posts can be seen and shared by others. Snapchats and Burn Notes are supposed to disappear but can be dangerous because they can be saved permanently via cameras or screenshots even though they are deleted from servers. In fact, any social media post that is deleted can come back and haunt once it has been shared or captured by a single person.

In spite of anonymity promises of apps such as Spillit, advanced technology and savvy users can track and identify users when they’re not supposed to be able to do this. This is valuable in cases associated with crimes and bullying. In addition to innocent or naive users, social media troublemakers or criminals can also endanger themselves by inadvertently revealing their own identities.

The follow up to this article will provide tactics to reduce and eliminate many of the dangers associated with social media sites and apps. In the meantime, general tips and guidelines can be found in the article, How To Protect Your Child on Social Networks.

Until next time,… Stay Cyber Safe!

11 replies
  1. ed
    ed says:

    i was taught 2 simply use COMMON SENSE whn putting yr life out in the Internet whn i 1st started College 8 yrs ago; it’s heart-wrenching whn i C so MANY youths; evn adults tht believe tht ‘Privacy Settings’ mean PRIVACY, or security, or tht , as so mny of my associates like 2 say, ‘…Don’t worry, I only let people I want to see my info, see my info. My Settings are set to ‘private’ so my info and pics are safe. I’m in no danger. LOL’ whnever i make a cautionary comment on their Wall about a pic of their precious babies or dearest sibling; BFF, or tht cutesy pic of themselves, or all thz DETAILS of their LIVES, they fuss, argue; i’m no longer allowed access 2 their Wall, or no longer get emails from thm. breaks my heart whn they do ths 2 me, but my conscience is clear n my loving efforts 2 help; maybe protect thm from potential harm by their own ignorant actions. i do wht i can 4 those i love, evn if they don’t love me back. THANK U SO MUCH 4 yr Article!

    • Hayley Kaplan
      Hayley Kaplan says:

      I completely understand the predicament you sometimes find yourself in. I warned a friend of my son that some of his Facebook status updates were inappropriate and were putting him at risk in several different ways. He unfriended me but at least my conscience was clear. Funnily enough, he re-friended me a few months later – some of his posts are still inappropriate but I’ve already spoken so I don’t repeat myself – my son says he steps in occasionally to warn his friend of inappropriate posts – that’s a good friend, right?

      I also notify friends when I notice what should be a semi-private post is designated as Public. In most of those cases, my friends thank me because they didn’t intend for that specific post or photo to go beyond their friend list. Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences, Ed.

  2. Matt Steiner
    Matt Steiner says:

    Your posts are always so unbelievably thorough and informative, Hayley. Even though I’d like to think that I’m fairly ‘tech-savvy’, you mentioned some apps/sites that I haven’t yet heard about. I’m going to re-post on my company’s Facebook page. Awesome stuff.

  3. BH Mom
    BH Mom says:

    As soon as you familiarize with one, a dozen other apps become available. Is the key to check your kid’s phone every week? To talk to them and hope they listen? I tweeted this post, Hayley. Hope other moms are as aware as you are. (though I kinda doubt it!)

  4. Lyn
    Lyn says:

    Not so happy to let everyone know that I have no knowledge of most of these apps and sites, but more than delighted and proud to report that I have brilliant children who can show my grand children to always follow the right path.

  5. Christina Simon
    Christina Simon says:

    Really helpful post! I’m familiar with most, but not all of these since my daughter is 12. I really dislike the anonymous question sites. No good can come from Ask.fm in my opinion!

    • Hayley Kaplan
      Hayley Kaplan says:

      It’s interesting that you singled out ask.fm. That site has been a source of cruel cyber bullying in the 12-14 age range and it’s enough of a concern at one of the local private Los Angeles schools that letters recently went out to all parents about it.

    • Hayley Kaplan
      Hayley Kaplan says:

      Actually, there are way more than the ones I listed. I went into a panic today about 5 new ones I read about and then calmed myself by telling myself that the same rules of caution apply to all of them. It may be time for you to have a chat with your kids. I suspect you’ll find out that they are using more of these than you realize. (and if you have a moment to let me know about the results of such a chat, I’d be very interested.)


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