What are the most popular social media apps for teens? That’s a good question with an ever-shifting answer.

Sometimes our kids have the attention span of a gnat. That is totally normal teen behavior. That also means the social media applications that were all the rage yesterday might be gone tomorrow.

One of the toughest jobs of parenting in the cyber age is keeping up with what is hot and what is not on social media. Buckle your seatbelt, because you’re in for a wild ride.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat Rule the Internet

Facebook came in second in popularity behind Snapchat in a survey of users aged 13-24 taken in February 2017. With an overall reach of 76 percent of teenagers and young adults in the United States, Facebook’s still going strong. Snapchat comes in at 79 percent and Instagram holds at a steady 73 percent.

If you ask any living, breathing teenager about Facebook, their answer will probably be something like, “Facebook is for old people, mom.”

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Facebook is no longer the most popular social media app.

Snapchat is currently the most popular social media app for teenagers. According to Screen Retriever:

This app allows kids to send photos and videos. The images theoretically disappear within seconds so some kids are using Snapchat to sext.  It’s known as the sexting app.  Kids may think the photos disappear for all time but a screenshot capture can be taken easily and the image can go viral quickly.  In addition, Snapchat has known security vulnerabilities such that their database of customer names and phone numbers was recently hacked.  Snapchat restricts usage to those 13 years and older.

If your spidey senses started tingling, you’re not alone. Snapchat is getting a lot of competition lately from a new anonymous app named Sarahah (pronounced Sahara, like the desert). And you thought Snapchat gave you parental anxiety? From Fortune:

The app allows users to search for others who they may know and then send them anonymous messages. True to Sarahah’s origins as a tool for honest employee feedback, the app encourages users to craft “a constructive message” after they select a recipient. Users can apply filters exert some control over who sends them messages, and they can “favorite” the messages that they like—but the app does not allow them to respond to messages. Sarahah’s website notes that the app will not disclose users’ identities without consent.

With anonymity as an available option the potential for cyberbullying increases. The reviews on Sarahah are mixed, with users saying they have received varied responses. Some nice, some mean and rotten. Paying attention to the apps your teens are using and making sure they have the emotional maturity to understand the potential ramifications of the apps is very important.

Instagram still maintains high usage.

Instagram, owned by Facebook, has a required minimum age of 13. It ranks third among the most popular social media applications teens are using. ADL describes it as:

A smartphone app where users can share pictures, memes and videos and follow certain hashtags (see definitions below) related to their interests. Sharing can be set to either “friends” or public. Users can like and comment on posts or explore public pictures using hashtags. Some users create “finstas,” fake Instagram accounts with a different username than their regular account or “rinsta,” that only their closest friends can see.

Spotify rules in music apps.

While not a social media app, Spotify does allow users to share music playlists. This is a file-sharing service that allows users to access music from every genre. Users can create playlists of their favorite tunes and share them with friends. There is a “free” version of Spotify that earns money by forcing users to listen to or view ads. There is a subscription service available which allows listening by users without being subjected to the annoying ads. Unlike the old Napster file-sharing service, Spotify has infused the record industry with “more than two billion dollars to the record labels, publishers, distributors, and artists who own the rights to the songs.”

popular social media

Other smaller apps your kids probably use.

Kik – With this free chat app, users can message people one-on-one or in group chats. In addition, they can exchange links, images, videos, and more.

Musical.ly – This app lets you upload original videos, remix material by others, search music videos by genre, and more. The free music video sharing site also lets users share videos publicly or just with friends and followers.It should be noted that some videos contain sexually explicit material.

Messenger – You can use this as part of Facebook or on its own as a stand-alone app. Users can exchange messages with photos, GIFs, stickers, GIFs, and more. You can also make voice calls and encrypt messages.

Pinterest – Think of an online bulletin board, where users “pin” images and videos. They can upload their own material or collect other pins and sort them onto different boards. Users can then follow boards they like and get notifications when something new gets pinned.

Twitter – On Twitter, you can share pictures, videos, and links in brief tweets. They used to employ a 140-word character limit but have since broadened it to 280 characters. You can also use hashtags to start. search, and join conversations on a topic of interest.

WhatsApp – WhatsApp lets exchange texts, photos, videos, audio messages, and video calls for free. However, the user needs a mobile number to sign up.

YouTube – This popular site and app for video sharing has a vast collection of content from individuals as well as small and large media outlets. Since anyone can post, the videos are of varying degrees of quality. Much of the material is inappropriate for teens and children.

Keeping Your Teens Safe Online

It seems like all teens have a cell phone. That places them in almost constant danger from online threats. For parents that is a cause of constant anxiety. Keeping our teens safe online is a priority. The single most effective thing a parent can do is to educate their teen. Know what applications are out there and know what they allow your teens to do online.

Communicate with your teen. Talk to them openly about the threats and dangers they may come across. Try not to judge them and trust your teen to act responsibly (unless they give you a reason not to, of course). Keeping an open line of communication will keep your teen from trying to hide their online activity. Monitor their activity with them. Most teens, while not always eager to share with parents, will talk about their online activities.

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