Five social media apps your teen is likely using, and why you should use them, too

Posted on by Youth for Christ

Be your teen’s friend. That’s the number-one word of advice from YFC staffers to parents, at least when it comes to helping kids navigate the ever-present and sometimes threatening world of social media. “Friending” your teen is far more effective than setting time limits on phone usage—or even taking those phones away. Here’s why.

“Most parents are very concerned about the time their kids are spending on social media,” says Chip Clark, City Life Ministry Director. “But they have no idea what their teens are posting, snapping, and chatting about during that time.” And that’s the real problem.

According to Liz Adams, Campus Life Director at Huntington North High School, “Teens don’t necessarily have a cause-and-effect brain. It’s something we have to teach them. They aren’t thinking about the fact that their actions in the world of social media can have a profound impact on themselves and others—be it positive or negative.”

That’s why it’s so important to help your teens set healthy boundaries instead of dictating time limits for their phones. Those boundaries can protect them from cyber predators and help them learn how to deal with cyber bullies or how to respond to “sexting.”

In other words, a parent’s job is to be in their space and help them navigate a world that may or may not share your family’s values. “I don’t control my kids’ social media,” says Chip, “but I do ask questions about how my kids are portraying themselves online. If I see a change in my kids’ temperaments, I look at their social media networks. Who are their friends, and what are they posting?”

So what are the top five social media apps among teens today? Trending now are:

• Instagram

• Twitter

• Kik

• Snapchat

• Pokemon Go

And don’t forget about Facebook. Our staff has discovered that teens are jumping back on Facebook, thanks to the new “live” video feature. No matter what the app, your kids need your ongoing interaction and input on social media more than they need rigid rules. The best message you can send them is this: “Let’s figure this out—together.”

Three more resources for talking to kids about social media:

WEBSITES

10 Things every parent should know about gaming

New research about teens social media and what they need from us

Three reasons you shouldn't call your teenager a tech addict

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