Social media is any online gathering place which allows people to share ideas, information, photos and videos. Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Kik… as soon as you learn about one social media site, another one pops up and is the latest and greatest way for your kids to stay connected with their friends. As overwhelming as it seems, familiarizing yourself with the sites and apps out there will help you to better understand what your children are doing and will help you understand privacy policies to keep them safe – while still allowing them to have fun and interact with their friends.
Help children use social networking sites safely
Social networking sites can have many benefits for children, such as allowing them to explore new interests. Help your children use them more safely by going over the following NetSmartz tips and discussion starters.
- Check your child’s friend lists to see who has access to his or her profile. Make sure your child knows all friends in person.
- Teach your child to set profiles to private–but be aware that privacy settings do not guarantee complete privacy.
- Have your child remove any inappropriate content and photos and delete any personal information.
- Check the profiles of your child’s friends to see if there is revealing information or photos about your child.
- Report inappropriate or criminal behavior to the appropriate authority. Most sites have a reporting mechanism for non-criminal behavior. Criminal behavior should be reported through law-enforcement agencies and the CyberTipline® at www.cybertipline.com.
Start a discussion with your child
Use these NetSmartz discussion starters to get an internet safety conversation going with your children. The more often you talk to them about online safety, the easier it will get, so don’t get discouraged if they don’t respond immediately.
- Could you show me your online profile(s)?
- Do you use your real name or age when communicating with others online?
- What kinds of things do your post on your page?
- How do you decide who to add as a friend?
- Would you feel comfortable if I checked your profile?
Common Sense Media Resources
- 11 Social Media Red Flags Parents Should Know About – Find out which social media features are cause for concern – no matter which app your kid is using. By Christine Elgersma, Common Sense
- Common Sense Media – Parenting, Media, and Everything in Between – Helpful articles, resources and information related to Cyberbullying
- 5 Ways to Stop Cyberbullies | Como Combatir El Ciberbullying
- 4 Ways to Help Teens Avoid Digital Harassment
- 5 Tips for Dealing with Haters and Trolls
- 5 Social Media Rules for Teens and Tweens
- Practical Tips for Easing Kids’ Social Media Anxiety – Fear of missing out can make social media-using teens feel stressed.
- Explore all Common Sense Media Articles on the topic of Social Media
Facebook, Instagram, and Social Media – Common Sense
“Social media isn’t simply a way of life for kids — it’s life itself. To help them keep their online interactions safe, productive, and positive, we offer the most up-to-date research and guidance on social media basics. Learn about the latest apps and websites, and get tips on talking to your kids about sharing, posting, and avoiding digital harassment.”
Social Media Test Drive
Practice digital literacy skills in a social media simulation. Like a driving simulator for young people learning to drive a car for the first time, Social Media TestDrive provides a simulated experience of realistic digital dilemmas and scenarios, along with key concepts and strategies for navigating them. Developed by Cornell University’s Social Media Lab, in collaboration with Common Sense Education.
Explore the Modules
Spot the Troll
Spot the Troll – (Age appropriate for grades 7-12) From Clemson University, A troll is an inauthentic social media account. Often created to spread misinformation and distrust or to cyberbully others online. Trolls have been deployed on every major social media platform. This quiz tests users’ ability to identify which accounts are genuine and which are professional trolls. Along the way, advice is provided for what to look for and how to be a better consumer and producer of social media. The quiz presents users with 8 profiles, each of which includes both profile information and a brief selection of posts from a single social media account. The user is asked to decide if the content comes from an authentic account or a professional troll. Each question is followed by some tips that might help in the future, as well as the opportunity to explore more details.
Social Media 101 – What’s Out There?
Note: The resources below have been listed in alphabetical order, not by popularity.
Ask.fm is a social networking site where users can invite questions from other users on the site or from anonymous users. The site was launched on June 16, 2010. The ask.fm site has known issues regarding the lack of reporting, tracking or parental control processes. Ask.fm gives potential users the option of signing in using their Facebook or Twitter accounts. Ask.fm operates a similar friend system to Twitter: users can choose to “follow” other users. However, unlike Twitter, a user can never find out who is following them and can only know the overall number of followers he/she has. According to webwise.ie – “It allows anyone to post anonymous comments and questions to a person’s profile and is increasingly being used as a means to communicate abusive, bullying and explicit content.”
Age Requirement: A person must be at least 13 years of age to join the Ask.com community.
Ask.fm Safety Center (Source: Ask.fm)
Ask.fm Safety Tools – Report and Block Inappropriate Activity and Content (Source: Ask.fm)
Band app is free and mainly used for communication. You can create spaces or groups for communicating with different people. Also, it is used to facilitate coordination between users. It includes a gathering board, gathering calendar with RSVP, polls, to-do lists and private chat that help keep everybody in the loop. The 7.3 update (in 2019) gives parents the ability to monitor the activities on Band and ensure that they are safe in the groups where they are active.
Age Requirement: Band app is rated for teens ages 13 and up.
Band app review: Is band app safe for kids? (Source Wondershare FamiSafe)
BIGO LIVE is a free app that lets teens create vlogs or stream live video of themselves that other users can see and comment on in real time. There is a monetizing component to the app. Teens can receive and send “Beans” (BIGO’s term for virtual gifts) that cost real money. You can level up and improve your ranking by logging in every day and sending gifts. Certain information is displayed publicly on a user’s profile page, such as name, age and followers. Recent videos will also be displayed publicly on a user’s profile page.
Age Requirement: The app is rated “Teen” on the Google Play store and iTunes rates it as 17+.
BitLife – Life Simulator
BitLife – Life Simulator is a text based simulation game/app. Users are assigned an identity to play through the entire game, from infancy to death. Your character increases in age as you play. Users can make text-based life choices about how to make money, spend their time, and develop relationships. Those choices determine levels of happiness, health, smarts, and appearance. When players die, they can start over again with a new chosen avatar. Even though users are making text-based choices, they are adult decisions that are of a mature nature.
Age Requirement: iTunes rates the app as 17+, Common Sense and the developer rate it at 16+.
Byte – Creativity First
Byte lets you shoot or upload and then share six-second videos. Released on January 27, 2020, Byte is very similar to the now defunct Vine – but is being compared to TikTok. Users create six-second videos that loop endlessly until you scroll to the next one. There’s an online forum that takes you out of the app where users can interact, but no direct messaging in the app. Users can also import videos from their camera roll to edit and showcase. Once posted, the community can comment on the posts.
Age Requirement: According to Byte’s Terms of Service, to use the services, you must be at least 13 years of age. The App store rates it as 17+, Google Play rates is as Teen and Common Sense rates it for 15+ years of age.
Byte Terms of Service (Byte.co)
Chatroulette is an online chat site that connects you with other users from around the world via video-chat. The site requires no registration or age verification meaning anyone can access it.Age Requirement: While Chatroulette encourages users under the age of 18 to not use the site, there is no age verification process in place.
Terms of Service (Source: Chatroutlette)
With just a Twitter or Facebook ID, you can track someone’s current location. Creepy allows anyone with access to another person’s online photos to pull sensitive geotag location data, allowing them to pinpoint where the photo was taken. Just provide Creepy with the needed username and it will retrieve all the locations the user has posted photos from.
Age Requirement – You must be 14 years of age to download Creepy.
Discord is an app that allows gamers to connect via text, voice, and video. Its developers created it to replace other voice-over-internet protocol (VOIP) apps that gamers use to talk to each other in real time while they play games – primarily massively multiplayer online games (MMOs). The app is also widely used as a social media tool. Users can send direct messages to other users, chat, and talk or listen in larger group chats. If location services are turned on, there is a nearby feature when adding friends that enables you to see/add other users nearby. There is a privacy setting to control who can send private messages.
Parent’s Ultimate Guide to Discord (Source: Common Sense Media)
Parent’s Guide to Discord (Source: Discordapp.com)
Facebook is currently the world’s largest social network, with over a billion users worldwide. Registered users can create profiles, upload photos and video, send messages to keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues.
Age Requirement: Facebook requires you to be at least 13 years old to register.
Facebook Family Safety Center – includes Parent Portal, Bullying Prevention Hub, Online Well-being and Help Center information. (Source: Facebook)
How to Report Things on Facebook (Source: Facebook)
FNGenius is FOX’s live interactive mobile TV trivia game show with cash prizes. FNGenius premiered on Sunday, August 12, 2018 during The Teen Choice Awards 2018 on FOX. Users need to supply a phone number during sign-up so the app can send them alerts when there’s a new game underway. Fox can use the first-party data it collects to target users on other platforms (mobile) with advertisements and promos for their new Fox TV shows.
Age Requirement: You must be at least 17 years old to download this app.
Fortnite is a popular survival action game centered around short play sessions. Players battle up to 100 other live players in solo mode, pairs, or teams; the goal is to be the last player standing. The game does offer in-app purchases for costumes, dance animations, and other content, but it doesn’t have a heavy push for them. There’s no chat with other players in the mobile version.
Age Requirement: You must be 12+ according to the app store.
Parents’ Ultimate Guide to “Fortnite” (Source: Common Sense Media)
Glympse is a cross-platform, third-party location sharing service. It lets you share real-time location using GPS tracking with your friends, and comes with a ton of features. You can send a notification called a ‘glympse’ via email, SMS, Facebook or Twitter to your friend(s). The app can also be integrated into Garmin’s Navigation software.
Google+ (pronounced and sometimes written as Google Plus) is a social networking service owned and operated by Google Inc. It is the second-largest social networking site in the world, having surpassed Twitter in January 2013. It has approximately 359 million active users.
Age Requirement: To sign up for a Google account, U.S. residents need to be 13+.
Note: Google+ was shut down for business use and consumers on April 2, 2019.
GroupMe is a group texting app that allows access to GIFS, emojis, images, videos, and links to websites, without ever leaving the app. It also includes direct messaging for one-to-one contact, allowing users to “ditch” the old-fashioned SMS text message and plan events with contacts in the app. GroupMe is similar to other data texting apps like kik, what’s app and any other texting app that uses data instead of cell service. The difference is the GroupMe is designed for Groups.
Age Requirement: GroupMe is rated for users 15+ on Common Sense Media’s website.
GroupMe Help/Support Page (Source: GroupMe.com)
HOLLA: Live Random Video Chat
This app is all about connecting with people you don’t know. Once you sign up using a phone number or your Facebook account, users can get matched instantly with a stranger, and both you and they appear on camera. Or you can swipe Tinder-style until you like someone and they like you (by tapping the heart). You can also enable location tracking to be paired with someone close by.
HOLLA Terms of Service (Source: HOLLA)
Houseparty is a mobile app for live video chatting. Unlike Facetime or Skype, you can have up to eight people in a room and have several “parties” going at once. Using a split screen feature, your device’s screen breaks into separate chat boxes, one for each member of your party. This feature allows you to see every member of your video chat in real-time as you hangout. After creating an account, you are free to create “rooms” for separate video chats. Chat requests are sent out to your friends via notifications through the app or through SMS text messages. As soon as your friends respond, your video chat is ready to start. If users of the app don’t take the time to “lock” their chat room and choose private settings, others can pop into their video chat to eavesdrop. Houseparty does give a “stranger danger” warning if an uninvited user sneaks into the chat.
Age Requirement: 13+ is the recommended age to register.
Instagram (now owned by Facebook) is a free photo sharing app that allows users (age 13 and above) to take photos and 15-second videos with their mobile phones, apply an optional “filter” to the image and quickly share them with friends.
Age Requirement: Instagram requires you to be at least 13 years old to register.
Parents’ Ultimate Guide to Instagram (Common Sense Media)
A Parent’s Quick Guide to Instagram (Source: Connect Safely)
Instagram Adds “Photos of You” Tagging Feature: How To Plus Privacy Tips (Source: Larry Magdid)
Report Something (Source: Instagram)
What is Instagram? (Source: Common Sense Media Video)
¿Qué es Instagram? (Source: Common Sense Media Video)
Instagram Debuts New Safety Settings For Teenagers – NPR Article (July 27, 2021)
Kakao Talk is a smartphone messenger used for free calls and text messages. The app allows you to make group calls, and schedule appointments in chat rooms. Features include animated emoticons, stickers, and custom themes.
Age Requirement: According to KaKao’s Terms of Service, if you are under 14 years of age, your parent or legal guardian’s consent must be obtained to create your KAKAO account.
KikMessenger is a free texting app available for iPhones, Android, Windows, and Blackberry phones. On Kik, you need to know someone’s username to start an online chat. Kik users often use Instagram to publicize their Kik username in their profiles or by tagging their photos.
Age Requirement: Kik is rated for users 17+ in the iTunes app store.
What is Kik? (Source: Common Sense Media Video)
Likee – Formerly Like – Magic Music Video Editor
Similar to the video lip-synching Tik Tok (formerly Musical.ly), Like lets users create short music videos that often involve lip-synching. You can also follow other Like users, climb a leaderboard (based on how many likes you’ve gotten for what you post), send direct messages, and send virtual gifts (that cost real money) to other Live users. All posts are public, though users can control who can message them. During special hashtag events, users can earn real-world money by gathering “likes,” and the most popular videos appear on leaderboards and on the app’s front page.
LinkedIn is a social networking site designed specifically for the business community. The goal of the site is to allow registered members to establish and document networks of people they know and trust professionally.
Age Requirement: You must be 14 years or older to set up a LinkedIn account. The age requirement used to be 18, it changed to 14 in August 2013.
The Beginner’s Guide to LinkedIn (Source: Mashable)
Lipsi is another anonymous feedback/opinion app that lets users tell others what they think of them, without revealing their own identities. Users can also include a link to their Lipsi account in their Instagram or Snapchat profiles to get people to give them anonymous feedback or compliments. It’s possible to identify yourself if you wish to or you can stay in “ghost mode” to hide your identity. Lipsi is a location-based app, anyone within a 100-yard radius can send you an anonymous message.
Age Requirement: Lipsi is rated for users 17+ in the iTunes app store.
LiveMe is an app in which users are able to view the live broadcasts of other users. This app contains features allowing users to locate local broadcasts within their city or town, as well as being able to view broadcasts worldwide by selecting specific regions. The potential for predatory comments or bullying of broadcasters is a concern. App users have no control over who views their broadcasts, and all of their clicks and interactions as a viewer could be collected or shared.
Age Requirement: The Live.me app has a 17+ rating. According to their terms of service, the service is restricted for use by any persons under the age of 18.
MeetMe is the app version of the popular online flirting, entertainment, and social networking website formerly called MyYearbook. You can update your status (like Facebook) with quotes, videos or pictures and share it with people that are near you (based on your age and location). You can browse through people near you or even anyone who has an account. You can add them as friends and ask them questions, which they’ll receive and decide whether or not to answer. As soon as a teen signs up for MeetMe, his or her profile becomes public, giving the entire MeetMe “community” access to personal information including age, gender, and location.
Age Requirement: MeetMe is rated 17+ in the app store.
MessageMe is an iOS and Android app that offers group and individual messaging, but with a twist. Besides messages, you can also send other types of content too, such as photos, songs, videos, audio recordings and doodles.
Facebook recently released (December 5, 2017) a spin-off version of their Messenger app, designed specifically for children under the age of 13. Until now Facebook has required users to be 13+ to create an account. Although Messenger Kids allows tweens into the world of Facebook, the program comes with built-in parental controls. Parents create the account and add new contacts for their children. After parents create their child’s account, Messenger Kids will instruct them to hand the device to their child so he/she can complete setup. Within a message, children can send “kid-appropriate” gifs, stickers, emojis and live filters. They can also access all photos and videos on the device they are using. Live video chats with approved contacts are also an option. If a child wants to chat with a friend from school, his/her parent would need to be Facebook friends with the parent of the other child. Both parents would then need to agree to the connection request.
Age Requirement: Designed for children ages 6-12 with parent account setup
MySpace is a social networking service with a strong music emphasis owned by Specific Media LLC and pop music singer and actor Justin Timberlake. The June 2013 redesign combines elements from Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. The updated website includes a built-in music player that lets users stream songs as they scroll through pages. The new site also includes tools for artists to identify their most active followers. Chris Vanderhook, the COO of Specific Media, identified the new service’s target demographic as between the ages of 13 and 30, and pointed to musicians, artists, photographers and DJs, as well as “aspiring kids who want to be one of them,” as the network’s core members.
Age Requirement: You must be at least 13 years old to use MySpace
Omegle is an app for meeting people. When you use Omegle, it picks another user at random and lets you have a one-on-one chat with each other. Chats are anonymous – using the handles “You” and “Stranger” or “Stranger 1” and “Stranger 2” if using (Spy mode). There is nothing to stop users from revealing personal details if they choose to. Users can also add their interests and Omegle will look for someone who’s into some of the same things they are instead of connecting users with someone completely random. Although there are prompts to encourage the safe use of the platform, there are no parental control settings on the app.
Age Requirement: You must be 13 years of age or older to dowbload Omegle. If you are under 18, Omegle’s Terms of Service requires use with a parent/guardian’s permission.
ooVoo is a free video, voice, and messaging app for PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, supported Android smartphone or tablet. Users can have group chats with up to 12 people for free. Teens mostly use ooVoo to hang out with their friends. Many log on after school and keep it open while doing homework. ooVoo can be used for group studying and it makes it easy for kids to receive “face to face” homework help from classmates. Users can only communicate with those on their approved contact list.
Age Requirement – A person must be at least 13 years of age to sign up for a ooVoo account.
Operated and provided by Twitter, Periscope lets you broadcast live video to the world. Whereas apps like Instagram and Vine let users record short video clips and post them online, Periscope allows users to post live video streams of what they’re doing at that very moment. Going live with your stream will instantly notify your followers who can join, comment and send you hearts in real time. Periscope is about being in the moment and feeling connected to a person and a place. This immediacy encourages direct and unfiltered participation in a story as it’s unfolding.
Location tagging was a major privacy concern for users when Periscope started because it pinpointed the specific location you posted from. They have now updated the app and your location is recorded as a large geographic region, rather than a specific location. Users have the option of choosing to push a link out to their Twitter followers, allowing them to tune into the live stream.
Note: Periscope was shut down for business use and consumers in March 2021
Pheed provides users with a unified platform for sharing all forms of digital content, which includes text, photo, audio clips, voice notes, video, and live broadcast. Users can subscribe to other users’ channels and view their subscribed channels’ content in real time; they can ‘love’ or ‘heartache’ specific pheeds, hashtag and ‘pheedback,’ as well as share content from others’ channels to their own via a feature called ‘remix’ similar to a Twitter retweet.
Age Requirement: Pheed requires you to be at least 13 years old to register. Pheed’s terms of service states: If you are 13 or older but under the age of 18, you must review terms of service with your parent or guardian to make sure that you and your parent or guardian understand it.
Pinterest is a pinboard-style photo-sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, and hobbies. Users can browse other user’s pinboards for images, “re-pin” images to their own pinboards, or “like” photos.
Age Requirement: You must be at least 13 years old to use Pinterest.
All About Pinterest Guide (Source: Pinterest)
Plenty of Fish
A popular free dating app and website that encourages chatting with strangers. It allows users to browse profiles based on location.
With Pokémon GO, you’ll discover Pokémon in a whole new world—your own! Pokémon GO uses real locations to encourage players to search far and wide in the real world to discover Pokémon. Pokémon GO allows you to find and catch more than a hundred species of Pokémon as you explore your surroundings. As you walk around a neighborhood, your smartphone will vibrate when there’s a Pokémon nearby. Kids, teens, and adults from every walk of life are wandering out in the real world with smartphones to play the game.
Age Requirement: The app states that users must be 13+ years or older to sign-up. However children under 13 are also allowed to use the app provided they get parents to create an authorized account.
All About Pokémon Go (Common Sense Media)
A Parent’s Guide to Pokémon Go (Source: Android Central)
Pokémon Go Help Page (Pokémon Go website)
This social media site allows teens to ask other users anonymous questions. This type of open access site can pose problems for teens/tweens, as users do not have to login to ask questions, there is no online moderator to check for disturbing content and adult profiles are mixed in with those of teens and children.
Age Requirement – You must be 13 years or older to use Qooh.me.
Reddit users submit links or text/self posts, which are voted up or down by other users. Content is ranked to determine the post’s position on the front page. All the content is organized into categories known as “sub-reddits.” Redditors can also post comments about the submission, and respond back and forth in a conversation tree of comments; the comments themselves can also be upvoted and downvoted. The forum-like interaction means your child can “talk” to anyone. Kids can access links tha lead to stories or photos on external sites. Once they register, they can vote, make self-posts, or subscribe to “subreddits” that focus on specific topics.
Age Requirement – The sign-up process for Reddit doesn’t require proof of age. Reddit’s terms of service states that their service is directed to people who are at least 13 years old or older.
REFACE (formerly known as Doublicat) is an app the allows users to place their faces onto the image of someone in an existing GIF or video. While it’s typically used to create memes on social media, many are worried about the possibility of REFACE being used for deepfake videos to promote conspiracies.
ROBLOX is an online virtual playground and workshop — where kids of all ages can interact, create, have fun, and learn. Each player starts by choosing an avatar and giving it an identity. They can then explore ROBLOX — interacting with others by chatting, playing games, or collaborating on creative projects. Each player is also given their own piece of undeveloped real estate along with a virtual toolbox with which to design and build anything desired. By participating and by building stuff, ROBLOX members can earn specialty badges as well as ROBLOX dollars (“ROBUX”). In turn, they can shop the online catalog to purchase avatar clothing and accessories as well as premium building materials, interactive components, and working mechanisms.
Age Requirement: Under 13 – doesn’t have access to social features and account is automatically set to privacy mode (When privacy mode is on, the player is prevented from sending or receiving free-form in-game chat. Player will also not be able to send or receive “Private Messages” to and from other players.) Users can “age up” after turning 13. This allows users to take advantage of social features when they turn 13.
Parents Ultimate Guide to ROBLOX (Source: Common Sense)
ROBLOX Quick Guide for Parents and Teens (Source: ConnectSafely)
ROBLOX Information for Parents (Source: ROBLOX)
Sarahah is an anonymous feedback app that teens are using to pass anonymous digital notes to each other. The app lets you create a profile and works as an add-on to the popular social networking app Snapchat. Drawing upon the contact list on user’s phones, it lets users connect with friends and send anonymous comments to them. It also lets users search for other users and send anonymous messages to them as well, even if they don’t know them. Users can choose not to have their name or profile picture appear in the app’s search or receive messages from unregistered users, but they must opt out to make this happen.
Age Requirement: Sarahah is not recommended for kids. Both Common Sense and the App Store rate it for age 17+. Note: there’s no date of birth input when you sign up on the app after download.
The Sarahah App – A Parent’s Guide (Source: MyKidsTime.com)
What is Sarahah? (Source: Common Sense Media Video)
Skout is a flirting app used to meet and chat with new people. Skout’s “shake to chat” feature lets you shake your phone to get randomly paired in a chat with someone nearby. Based on the age entered at registration, teens and adults are assigned to different groups, but ages aren’t verified. The teen community is separated into age-appropriate groups based on school grades. Community members communicate with peers close to their own age. Teens can earn points for using the app and responding to ads. Then they can redeem points to reveal the profiles of users who’ve “checked” them out or to access users in other geographic areas. While the app is free, some features are only accessible with a premium account, which costs $9.99 a month.
Skype is a service that allows users to communicate with peers by voice using a microphone, video by using a webcam, and instant messaging over the internet.
Age Requirement: For the U.S., the minimum age requirement is 13+.
Skype Security – Protecting your online safety, security and privacy. (Source: Skype)
Snapchat is a photo messaging application developed by Stanford University students. Users can take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of recipients. These sent photographs and videos are known as “Snaps.” Users set a time limit for how long recipients can view their Snaps, ranging from up to 10 seconds to as little as 1 second, after which – in theory – they will be hidden from the recipient’s device and they are also deleted from snapchat server.
Age Requirement: Snapchat is not intended for children under the age of 13. Minors ages 13-17 should have permission from a parent or legal guardian before using Snapchat. Children under the age of 13 are only permitted to access a special version of Snapchat, called “SnapKidz,” which they are automatically directed to upon sign up.
Snapchat – Learning the Basics (Source: Snapchat)
Parent’s Guide to Snapchat (Source: Connect Safely)
How to Report a Safety Concern on Snapchat – Note: You must have a Snapchat account (Source: Snapchat)
What is Snapchat? (Source: Common Sense Media)
¿Qué es Snapchat? (Source: Common Sense Media)
Taffy is a dating and friending app that puts personality and conversation on an equal footing with physical appearances to start. Everyone’s profile is blurry at first, and the more you chat with someone, the clearer their photo becomes. New users get started by creating a profile and posting in a category, such as “love”, “chat”, or “advice”. You can then browse potential matches by interests, location, age, and other familiar parameters, but search results will only reveal the headline and blurry photos. It’s up to you to decide who to chat with, sight unseen. As you continue to chat, Taffy slowly brings the photos into focus.
Telegram lets you do a lot more than your typical texting app, and it’s free with zero advertisements. All of your texts and phone calls are encrypted and you can send any file type you wish (up to 1.5 GB). All messages are stored in the cloud. Parents need to know that Telegram Messenger lets users send text messages, stickers, images, videos, and other files to one or many people for free, all using encryption to keep one-to-one messages secure and private, though some security experts question the quality of the encryption.
Age Requirement: Telegram Messenger is intended for users 17+.
Telegram Messenger FAQs (Source: Telegram)
Tellonym is an app designed for teens that lets users leave anonymous comments for each other. People can register using either an email or a phone number and can search for friends via contact lists. The app can be linked to Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat accounts letting users see what their friends think of them or others. As with other anonymous apps, users are at risk of being cyberbullied or harassed through the app. Users can block other users and can set a filter to block messages containing specific words. They can also report inappropriate messages through a built-in reporting system.
Age Requirement: According to Tellonym’s Terms of Service, you must be 13+ to use the app. The app store lists 12+.
Tellonym Info. Center for Parents (Source: Tellonym)
Tinder is a photo and messaging dating app for browsing photos of potential matches within a certain mile radius of the user’s location (Tinder uses GPS/location technology to match users who are near to each other). Swipe right to “like” a photo or left to “pass.” If a person whose photo you “liked” swipes “like” on your photo, the app allows you to message each other. Along with seeking and messaging matches, users can post “moments,” which are images and messages that exist for 24 hours and then disappear. The app has two separate communities – one for 18+ and one for younger teens aged 13-17.
Age Requirement: According to Tinder’s terms of service, you must be at least 13 years of age to access and use the service.
TikTok is a social media platform for creating, sharing and discovering short music videos. The app musical.ly was used by young people as an outlet to express themselves through singing, dancing, comedy, and lip-syncing. The app is now called TikTok, complete with a new logo and all of the same features that musical.ly had, combined with the features that TikTok had before they merged.
Ever seen your kids lip-sync in front of their phones? It’s a good chance they’re using the TikTok app. The social network lets users create and star in their own videos on either an iOS or Android device using a combination of music, special effects like time lapses, filters and emojis to share with others. Videos are posted to different categories, such as comedy, talent, sports, and style. Your profile is where you view your personal TikTok videos, plus there’s a discover section to view videos by category, trending tag, or song choice. There’s also a leader board highlighting the top users. TikTok offers a private setting for your account. This lets users screen who wants to follow them and either accept or decline. It also prevents anyone from directly sending messages unless users have approved them as fans (TikTok’s version of followers). If your profile is public, you can still opt to only allow friends to send messages.
What is TikTok (formerly musical.ly)? (Source: Webwise.ie)
TikTok Terms of Service | Safety Center (TikTok)
Parents Ultimate Guide to TikTok (Common Sense Media)
What is TikTok? (Common Sense Media)
Quick Guide for Parents (TikTok/Connect Safely)
Tumblr is a mircroblogging platform and social media website that allows users to post multimedia and other content to a short-form blog.
Age Requirement: You must be at least 13 years old to use Tumblr.
The Beginner’s Guide to Tumblr (Source: Mashable)
To Report a Terms of Service Violation – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
What is Tumblr? (Source: Common Sense Media)
¿Qué es Tumblr? (Source: Common Sense Media)
Twitch is a livestreaming platform where millions of users can watch live streams or pre-recorded video gameplay. You can view streams for free but you get extra benefits, including the ability to broadcast your own channel, by signing up for a free account. Although gaming is still the primary focus on Twitch, the platform has broadened its offerings to include non-gaming categories as well – Music & Performing Arts, Sports & Fitness, eSports, In Real Life (IRL) and a section for podcasts, vlogging, and Q&As. Some streamers have multiple channels aimed at different interests. Twitch is available on many platforms, (computer, gaming console, and tablets, mobile devices via a desktop browser and the app) but the official website is www.twitch.tv
Age Requirement: Twitch requires that users be at least 13 years old to use their platform and a user between 13 and 18 years old should use the platform with an adult, according to the site’s terms of service.
Parent’s Ultimate Guide to Twitch (Source: Common Sense Media)
Guía para padres sobre Twitch (Common Sense Media)
How to Manage Harassment and Block Users in Chat (Source: Twitch)
Twitter is an online social networking service and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based messages of up to 280 characters, known as “tweets”.
Note: As educational technoligist Lisa Nielsen states “This (If you become aware that your child has provided us with personal information without your consent) could be interpreted as Twitter requiring parental consent under 13. However, this (If we become aware that a child under 13 has provided us with personal information, we take steps to remove such information and terminate the child’s account.) could be interpreted as 13 being the age requirement. Twitter has yet to clarify their stance.
Using Twitter Basics (Source: Twitter)
Twitter Help Center – Safety Tips for Parents (Source: Twitter)
Twitter Online Abuse – How to Block and Report (Source: Twitter)
What is Twitter? (Source: Common Sense Media)
¿Qué es Twitter? (Source: Common Sense Media)
The Vault app lets users hide photos, videos, contacts, text messages, call logs, and even Facebook messages you don’t want others to see. The icon is unassuming (Asterisk in a speech bubble), so parents may not know if their child has inappropriate things saved to their mobile device. The app can be unlocked with a password or Touch ID and won’t show up in your recent app list.
Age Requirement: The app store age rating is Rated 4+.
Vero – True Social
Vero – True Social is a social media app that lets users post, share, and collect their favorite photos, links, videos, and music. The app originated in 2015, but was made more popular at the end of 2017 when users became frustrated with Instagram’s new algorithmically sorted feed. Vero touts itself as an “authentic” social-media platform. The name, Vero, means truth in Esperanto. Users are given four labels (acquaintance, friend, close friend, and follower) that they can assign to people they connect with in the app. Each time a user shares a post, they can decide how big of an audience they want to see the post. Example: Close friends only. Users see things in chronological order, which allows them to see everything they’ve missed since the last time they’ve logged in. The app is currently “free” – however since it doesn’t have ads or sponsored content, its paid subscription model could happen at any time.
VSCO (formerly known as VSCO Cam) allows users to take photos or upload from their camera roll and edit them as they like. They can also create their own VSCO feed with their edited photos.
Community Guildelines (Source: VSCO)
WallaMe is an app that allows users to hide messages in the real world through short messages, phone drawn graffiti and images using augmented reality. Using their device’s camera, anyone with the WallaMe app can view public postings- “Walls”- in their location or on the app’s public feeds that showcase the more popular Walls. Walls created can also be private so that only specified people can view them.
Age Requirement: Users will need to confirm they are 13 years old or over before using the app.
Wanelo (wah-nee-loh) which stands for Want, Need, Love – is an online shopping community. Users post images of and links to products, which are then bought, saved, tagged and shared by other users. When enough users tag a product, a store page is created. Users can follow stores and get updates when new products from those stores are posted. Users can tag friends and products and hashtags can be used to help products get discovered. It’s similar to Pinterest, only Wanelo gives users an option to click and purchase items instantly.
Age Requirment – You must be at least 13 to sign up for a Wanelo account.
Each Webkinz stuffed animal and Webkinz accessory comes with an 8-character code. By registering this code on the Webkinz website, the customer “adopts” this pet in the virtual Webkinz World. Without the Secret Code, the user will not get access to the Webkinz world. The Webkinz World is an online play area with its own economy. The user receives money (called KinzCash) by adopting new pets, playing online games, answering general knowledge questions, and through daily activities like clicking “I love my Webkinz,”spinning the Wheel of WOW, playing Wishing Well 2, or completing jobs (minigames) available once every 8 hours. Each day, there is a “Game of the Day” that can be played for bonus KinzCash, and other bonuses are available each hour, full days on weekends and afternoons only on weekdays. With each Webkinz toy purchased, more money, rooms, and items are added to the user’s account.
Age Requirement: The Webkinz website is designed for users ages 6-13+ and is intended to include content for all ages and levels of computer skill within that range.
WebKinz Parent’s Area (Souce: Webkinz)
WeChat is a mobile app that allows users to connect with friends across platforms. WeChat works on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Symbian and BlackBerry devices. It supports sending voice, video, photo and text messages. You can also do group chats, or you can find new friends nearby to talk to. WeChat has features that allow users get to know more friends via “Drift Bottle,” “Shake”, and “Look Around.”
Age Requirement: WeChat has a 17 and over age restriction for downloading the app.
WhatsApp is an application available on iOS for iPad/iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Nokia that allows users to send text messages to each other for free.
Age Requirement: The WhatsApp Service is not intended for children under age 16.
Whisper is a free mobile app that allows users to post anonymous thoughts using a photo from a cellphone or the internet. Similar to Instagram, users can browse “whispers” and “like” them and or leave a comment. Anyone can post an anonymous message to the service in the form of an image macro: text overlaid onto a picture. When you open the app, you see six images. Each one has a “secret” (written in text) on the photo. You can respond to a message publicly or privately, choosing a public anonymous post or a private pseudonymous chat. Users don’t have a public identity/profile in the app. While they do have handles, there’s no way to contact them except through the messages that they post. When you open the app on a phone, you can post and see public messages, but any time you want to see an archive of your own activity, you have to enter a four-digit pin number. Posts and messages remain hidden from view without the pin number.
(Source: The Atlantic)
Age Requirement: A person must be Age 17 or over.
Launched in 2015 Wishbone describes itself as “the go-to for comparing anything your heart desires. Users are presented with two ‘cards’ and are asked to choose a preference. Users are also able to produce their own cards for others to select their preference. Users are able to write comments underneath cards or, in the case that two users follow one another, send other users a direct message using an avenue similar to a chat room. As it is a comparison tool, students could use it to compare each other and incite cyberbullying through the app. According to the Common Sense Media site, many parents have concerns about the direct messaging functionality that enables teens can speak to people they don’t know in real life without any restrictions or safeguards in place.
Age Requirement: The Terms and Conditions don’t specify but according to Common Sense Media 15+ would be recommended.
Yubo (Formerly Yellow)
The app changed its name in December from Yellow to Yubo and did some rebranding. Yubo is a social media app that lets users create a profile, share their location, and swipe through images of other users in their area. It’s often referred to as Tinder for kids. Users are invited to swipe right on profiles they like and left on profiles they don’t. Users can browse through the profiles of people in their area and automatically link to follow their profiles on Snapchat and Instagram. If you swipe right on a person who has swiped right on your profile, you can then chat and follow them on Snapchat.
Age Requirement: Users must be 13+ to sign-up for the Yubo app. There is also a version available for adults aged 18+.
Link to Yubo/Yellow Community Guidelines (Source: yubo.live)
A Safety Guide for Parents, Carers and Educators (Source: Yubo)
YouNow is a live video-streaming and chat site/app. You register by using an existing social media account (Facebook, Twitter or Google+), though users can also view broadcasts without registering. Once signed-in, the site immediately starts streaming a channel picked at random. You can pick a different channel or choose from a the list of hashtags. To be on camera, users click the “Go Live” button allowing the site to access your device’s camera and microphone.
YouNow fans have the ability to communicate with each other via live chat. Digital gifts can be sent from fans to performers. YouNow uses two forms of currency, coins and bars. Users can earn coins by actively participating – the more time they spend watching, voting, and chatting, the more coins they will earn. Bars are used to purchase premium gifts for performers and are purchased in bundles and available at a variety of price points.
Age Requirement: Both the user agreement and app stores specify that users must be 13 and older.
YouNow – Trust and Safety (Source: YouNow)
YouTube (owned by Google) is a video-sharing website, where users can upload, view and share videos.
Age Requirement: To sign up for a Google account, U.S. residents need to be 13+. When a YouTube video has been age-restricted, a warning screen is displayed and only users who are 18 or older should watch it.
Parents’ Ultimate Guide to YouTube (Source: Common Sense Media)
Staying Safe on YouTube (Source: Google Safety Center Videos)
Report a Video (Source: YouTube Reporting and Enforcement)
5 Ways to Make YouTube Safer for Kids Video (Source: Common Sense Media)
YouTube Kids App
YouTube designed this mobile app as a safer place for kids under the age of 12. The videos chosen are based on the age of the viewer, but it has been reported that some questionable content has slipped through the cracks. (YouTube reports that it’s less than 1%.) There’s also a whole suite of parental controls, so parents can tailor the experience to your family’s needs.
Age Requirement: YouTube Kids is geared for children ages 4+ according to the app store. Common Sense Media says 7+.
YouTube Kids App (Source: YouTube)
Parent’s Ultimate Guide to YouTube Kids (Source: Common Sense)