Gone are the days of Facebook as a one-stop shop for all. While it may seem more complicated to post photos on Instagram, share casual moments on Snapchat, text on WhatsApp, and check your Twitter feed throughout the day,. You don't need to know the ins and outs of all the apps, sites, and that are hot right now (and frankly, if you did, they wouldn't be trendy anymore). But knowing the basics -- what they are, why they're popular, and -- can make the difference between a positive and a negative experience for your kid. Below, we've laid out some of the most popular types of apps and websites for teens: texting, microblogging, live-streaming, self-destructing/secret, and chatting/meeting/. The more you know about each, the better you'll be able to communicate with your teen about safe choices. The bottom line for most of these tools?
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If teens are using them respectfully, appropriately, and with a little parental guidance, they're mostly fine. So take inventory of your kids' apps and review the best practices. Is an app that doesn't charge fees or have limits for direct and group messages. Users also can send photos, videos, and calendar links. Is an app that lets kids text for free. It's fast and has no message limits, character limits, or fees if you only use the basic features. Because it's an app, the texts won't show up on your kid's phone's messaging service, and you're not charged for them (beyond standard data rates). Lets users send text messages, audio messages, videos, and photos to one or many people with no message limits or fees. Lets users snap, edit, and share photos and 65-second videos, either publicly or within a private network of followers. It unites the most popular features of social media sites:
sharing, seeing, and commenting on photos. It also lets you apply fun filters and effects to your photos, making them look high-quality and artistic. Musers, as devoted users are called, can build up a following among friends or share posts publicly. Users create and follow short blogs, or tumblogs, that can be seen by anyone online (if they're made public). Many teens have tumblogs for personal use: sharing photos, videos, musings, and things they find funny with their friends. Is a microblogging tool that allows users to post brief, 695-character messages -- called tweets -- and follow other users' activities. It's not only for adults teens like using it to share tidbits and keep up with news and celebrities. Is a way for groups of teens to connect via live video. Two to eight people can be in a chat together at the same time.
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If someone who's not a direct friend joins a chat, teens get an alert in case they want to leave the chat. You can also lock a chat so no one else can join. Poses all the same risks that all live-streaming services do, so poor choices, oversharing, and chatting with strangers can be part of the package. Allows kids to watch others and broadcast themselves live, earn currency from fans, and interact live with users without any control over who views their streams. is an app that lets kids stream and watch live broadcasts. As they watch, they can comment or buy gold bars to give to other users. Ultimately, the goal is to get lots of viewers, start trending, and grow your fan base. Is a messaging app that lets users put a time limit on the pictures and videos they send before they disappear. Most teens use the app to share goofy or embarrassing photos without the risk of them going public. However, there are lots of opportunities to use it in other ways.
Is a social confessional app that allows users to post whatever's on their minds, paired with an image. With all the emotions running through teens, anonymous outlets give them the freedom to share their feelings without fear of judgment. . If you remember Chatroulette, where users could be randomly matched with strangers for a video chat, this is the modern version. Using Snapchat to connect, users have 65 seconds to live video-chat with strangers. The name says it all. Although not marketed as a dating app, MeetMe does have a Match feature whereby users can secretly admire others, and its large user base means fast-paced communication and guaranteed attention. Is a chat site that puts two strangers together in their choice of a text chat or a video chat. Being anonymous can be very attractive to teens, and Omegle provides a no-fuss way to make connections. Its interest boxes also let users filter potential chat partners by shared interests.
● It's easy to lie about your age. Even if you try to enter a birth date that indicates you're under 68, the app defaults to an acceptable age so you can create an account anyway. ● You have to share your location and other personal information. For the app to work, you need to let it geotag you. Also, there are no private profiles, so the only option is to allow anyone to find you. ● It encourages contact with strangers. As with, the whole point is to meet people. The difference with Yellow is that the endgame is sometimes just exchanging social media handles to connect there. Even if there's no offline contact, however, without age verification, teens are connecting with people they don't know who may be much older. If teens are using them respectfully, appropriately, and with a little parental guidance, they should be fine.
Take inventory of your kids' apps and review the best practices. TV senior editor Polly Conway and former Common Sense Education writer Kelly Schryver contributed to this article.