Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Two more Social Networking sites You Should Know About

Thanks to the excellent tech savvy of some parents I work with, I am able to stay well-informed of the many social networking options out there for teens. I am just stymied trying to figure out how teens keep all these sites and apps straight. Which one do you use when, and which of your friends are on which sites? No wonder teens are distracted from actual conversations, they have way to much to do to keep up all their chats and pics. 

OK so here are the two new ones that I have heard about. First is ask.fm. This website lets anyone see the names, photographs and personal details of it's users. Then anyone who is on this site, can post anonymous comments or questions on users profile pages that range from insults to sexual advances and threats of violence. Sound like fun?? Well it must be for those people who are dying to say awful things to someone they don't like with absolutely no fear of being identified. As you can imagine this site contains sexualized, abusive and tons of bullying content. So here is how it works. I join ask.fm and set up a personal profile with pictures, and info about myself. Then let's say that you are a user on ask.fm, and your ex boyfriend is on there, you can write any awful thing you want about him, free from the worry that you could be identified or caught. This is alot of freedom for impulsive, emotional, and kids who get caught up in a crowd mentality and can bully till their hearts content. Your teen should not have this app on their phone.

The second app/site is called Kik. To use this site you need to know someone’s username to start an online chat.  Some Kik users use Instagram to publicize their Kik username in their profiles or by tagging their photos.  You’ll see some twitter users with “Kik me” and then their Kik username in their profile.  If your child or teen’s Instagram profile is public, and they use it to publicize their Kik username, then anyone who sees that on Instagram might “hit them up” on Kik.  So keep this in mind if you allow your child or teen to use Instagram. Again this is asking for trouble. One of your teen's friends puts up a picture on instagram, and your teen is tagged in that picture, then anyone who is friends with the original picture owner can contact your teen by saying kik me and giving their kik me user name. Again can be dangerous and put your teen in contact with people they don't know and who may be posers.

You must be constantly on alert and checking your teen's apps and sites they are visiting. If they can't download apps on their phones, ipads, itouches without your password, it at least gives you some semblance of control. These things can get out of hand. The reason I know about these sites is because parents have contacted me for help when they do get out of hand. There is no earthly reason why your teen needs to be on either of these sites. THEY ARE NOT SAFE. 

A conversation might go like this: " Hey honey I just heard about these two sites, ask.fm and kik. What do you think about them? " Find out what they know, and if they are using them. Then you can say: " I get your friends are using them, but they are unsafe, and they take up too much of your time between twitter, instagram, and facebook, and ichat, snap chat, it is all too much. Pick one!"

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