Gone are the days of children carrying around wockets in their pockets. Most of today's generation has some sort of gadget in their pocket, fully equipped to access trendy apps and social media sites with just the tap of a finger.
How, in the ever-changing online world, are parents to evaluate the benefits and dangers of the technology their youngsters use? Though it's tricky, resources like iparent.tv, Plugged-In Parenting, and others can help.
Before letting your student connect with peers online, learn a little bit more about some of today's most popular apps and websites by conducting your own research and checking out our list of pros and cons below.
Facebook allows users to "friend" one another in order to share photos, videos, status updates, news articles, and more. Many organizations, including Alpha Omega Academy, use Facebook pages or groups to communicate with members. Because it's a site that many parents are familiar with, more and more kids are steering clear of Facebook.
-Users receive immediate updates from the groups and organizations they like.
-The site makes it easy to connect with long-distance friends and family members.
-Active users stay up to date with the current events and trends that their friends follow.
-Facebook is a common platform for cyberbullying.
-Facebook's "like" system may have a negative impact on self-image, and may tempt users to alter the content they post in order to obtain more likes from friends.
-Inappropriate posts may have consequences down the road when it comes time for students to apply for college and employment.
Twitter, a popular microblogging service, challenges users to articulate their thoughts in 140 characters or less. It's a trendy way to get to-the-second updates on sports, pop culture, current events, and more.
-Credible accounts provide instant access to breaking news.
-The platform provides a place for discussion about current events.
-Users have the ability to make their account private and block unwanted followers.
-The site has no content filter.
-Twitter is also a common platform for cyberbullying.
Yik Yak, in essence, is a spinoff of Twitter designed for college students. The app tracks the geographic location of its users, known as "Yakkers," and broadcasts their unsigned, 200-character-or-less posts to other users within a 1.5 mile radius.
-There are really no positive perks to using Yik Yak, particularly for middle and high school students.
-The anonymous app is an ideal platform for cyberbullying.
-Since Yakkers go unnamed, the temptation to post inappropriate or offensive material is often greater on this platform than on other social sites.
-Though it was supposedly designed to disable near middle and high schools, several schools and colleges have reported serious bullying incidences and other threats via the app.
Snapchat is an app that allows users to send photos or short videos, known as "snaps," to friends and followers. Once opened, snaps are accessible for a brief timeframe (between 1 and 10 seconds) before supposedly disappearing from the recipient's device.
-Through the eyes of a teen, it's a fun and trendy way to communicate with friends.
-When used inappropriately, the app can be dangerous. Recipients can save and store snaps by taking a screenshot of any image sent via Snapchat.
-Apps that allow users to copy, download, and save snaps, sometimes without the sender's knowledge, also exist.
Instagram is a photo and video sharing app that doubles as a social networking service. Users can categorize photos with hashtags, share them on other social media sites, and communicate with other users via likes and comments.
-The platform provides users with a place to share creative visual art.
-Instagram allows users to block unwanted followers.
-Users can send photos or videos directly to specific individuals on their contact list through Instagram Direct.
-Some posts may contain inappropriate material.
-Though it's been ad-free in the past, Instagram is currently experimenting with advertising.
-Similar to Facebook, the "like" system on Instagram can impact a user's self-perception.
Spotify provides users with access to millions of new and classic music tracks. Users can stream music live for free, or pay a monthly fee for ad-free music that's also accessible offline. Available on mobile devices and computers, Spotify also allows users to share their music and listening habits on social media.
-Access your student's favorite tunes for free.
-Spotify can serve as a helpful learning tool when your student studies music in school.
-Spotify users have access to music with explicit lyrics.
-The free version of Spotify displays ads that may invite users to visit external websites or promote music with inappropriate lyrics.
Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board used by people of all ages to share creative ideas about hobbies, education, careers, and much more. From DIY crafts to study tips, there's something for everyone.
-The site provides sharable resources to help individuals enhance their hobbies.
-Users may pin their own creative ideas to share with the world.
-Though the site is largely safe, imagery on some pins may be unsuitable for younger audiences.
How do you track your student's social media use?