Social media app winning over kids, but police warn of its nasty Kik

On Sunday, The Age published a report about the social media app Kik.

NSW Police have described it as ”the number one social media problem involving teenagers” – but most parents would barely have heard of messaging app Kik before this week.

Kik’s popularity among young people was highlighted by the disappearance of Sydney teenager Krystal Muhieddine, who left her house early on Tuesday morning in a car with a stranger before being found in country Victoria on Friday.

The app can be installed on iPod touch and iPad devices as well as smart phones. Instead of using phone numbers or real names to contact each other, each Kik member has a user name. Conversations and images can’t be viewed publicly, which makes it much harder for parents to monitor Kik than Facebook or Twitter.

Cyber safety expert Ross Bark said Kik and Instagram were a ”dangerous combination” for teenagers, who post photographs publicly on Instagram and then invite viewers to ”Kik me” privately to chat.

”They’re literally promoting themselves, saying ‘come and talk to me’,” Mr Bark said. ”They can randomly chat with somebody and send images, and they don’t understand the consequences of who is using that information.”

Read the whole story here.

Facebook hands teenagers a megaphone

Recently ReadWrite published a post explaining that Facebook now

…officially wants teens to overshare as well, in ways that might also make them better fodder for advertising.

Facebook announced today that teenage users can now make their posts public on Facebook. Previously, the social network limited users between the ages of 13 and 17 to distributing posts to their extended network—i.e. friends and friends of friends. Teenage users also now have the option to turn on the “follow” setting for their accounts, letting public updates appear in news feeds.

Read the whole post here.

Joining your teenagers on Facebook improves your relationship

Although I’m sure many teenagers would disagree, the Huffington Post is reporting that parents who friend their teenage children on Facebook enjoy a stronger relationship than those who don’t.

There’s a new study out of Brigham Young University that says engaging with your kids on social media sites helps strengthen your bond. The study found that teens who were the most connected to their parents on Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media felt closer to them in real life. Those teens were also less likely to be depressed, delinquent or behave aggressively.

However, article author Ann Brenoff states that

I am unconvinced of the value of parent-teen bonding versus the potential harm of a misstep by a kid on social media. Learning to use social media safely and appropriately is a process. Some kids get it and some kids will learn it the hard way. For now, I will continue to monitor my kids’ online gaming activities, perform spot Instagram checks just like the spot urine tests given athletes — all the while teaching my kids about what is safe and appropriate “sharing” with real and virtual friends. The Internet is full of land mines and parents shouldn’t need social media to talk to their children about it or anything else.

Read the whole article here.

Teenagers, social media and privacy

The recently released 2013 Pew Report section on teenagers, social media and privacy has unearthed some interesting details:

  • 24% of  online teenagers now use Twitter
  • 80% use some kind of social media
  • 77% of online teens use Facebook
  • Some teenagers don’t see Twitter as social media
  • 75% of social media users check their accounts daily

Read the whole report here.

Parents, teens and online privacy: the Pew Report 2012

Although the Pew Report is US in origin, it is a useful tool to gauge how teenagers and parents use and view the internet and their online privacy.

  • 81% of parents of online teens say they are concerned about how much information advertisers can learn about their child’s online behavior, with some 46% being “very” concerned.
  • 72% of parents of online teens are concerned about how their child interacts online with people they do not know, with some 53% of parents being “very” concerned.
  • 69% of parents of online teens are concerned about how their child’s online activity might affect their future academic or employment opportunities, with some 44% being “very” concerned about that.
  • 69% of parents of online teens are concerned about how their child manages his or her reputation online, with some 49% being “very” concerned about that.
  • Some of these expressions of concern are particularly acute for the parents of younger teens; 63% of parents of teens ages 12-13 say they are “very” concerned about their child’s interactions with people they do not know online and 57% say they are “very” concerned about how their child manages his or her reputation online.

View the summary of findings here or download the full report here.

Twitter Help Centre for parents and teenagers

Twitter has developed a Help Centre which includes tips for parents and teenagers.

Topics for parents include:

What you can do:

When it has gone too far:

Learn more

While topics for teenagers include:

What you can do:

When it has gone too far:

What are parents afraid of?

Last week internet researcher and expert danah boyd asked her followers “what they’re afraid of with their kids’ use of social media. (Note: this is a biased crowd.)”

Among the issues were:

  • privacy
  • safety
  • influence of outsiders
  • loss of control
  • being bullied or a bully

 

Study reports on teenagers’ online behaviour

A few days ago Mashable reported on McAfee’s study into the online behaviour of teenagers. Although US based, this gives us a reasonable idea of how Australian teenagers are using the internet.

  •  70% of teens are hiding their online behavior from their parents, up from 45% in 2010. What exactly teens are hiding runs the gamut, but across the board parents are in the dark about most of their kids’ online activity. 
  • For example, 48.1% of teens admitted to looking up assignments and test answers online, while 77.2% of their parents said they don’t worry about their kids cheating in school.
  • And while 32% of teens surveyed have accessed pornographic content online, only 12% of their parents thought they had.
  • Similarly, 51% of teens reported that they have hacked someone’s social media account and 31% reported pirating movies and music. Meanwhile, less than 1 in 10 parents surveyed were aware that their children engaged in these illegal activities.
  • The study found that teens are getting creative with how they hide their online content and activity—a majority of teens (53%) regularly clear their browser history to keep their parents out of the loop. Twenty-four percent of teens went so far as to either create private email addresses unknown to their parents or create duplicate/fake social media profiles.
  • Despite an overwhelming sentiment of “not my kid” denial, parents are stepping up their game with online monitoring in an attempt to keep their kids out of trouble. Many are setting parental controls (49%), obtaining email and social network passwords (44%) and even using location-based devices to keep track of teens (10%). Still, nearly a quarter of parents surveyed admitted that they are so overwhelmed with technology that they can’t monitor their children’s online behaviors and are simply hoping for the best.
  • Other key findings of the study included statistics indicating a rise in cyberbullying, and Facebook proves to be the epicenter. Sixty-two percent of teens have witnessed cruel behavior online, and 93% of them say that it took place on Facebook.

Read more information from Mashable here and McAfee’s whole report here.

10 things you don’t know about teens and social networking

Cast members of the play Facebook Me recently sat down with Sarah Weir and discussed their thoughts on social networking.

“There’s more ‘life’ happening online than offline.  If you are not online, you are completely out of the loop–you don’t have a life, you don’t really exist.”

–Hannah, 13 years old

“I’m online even during class.  I’m supposed to be taking notes but instead I’m commenting on stuff and uploading pictures.”

–Emma, 14 years old


“I feel safer online than I do offline.  So I do things online that I wouldn’t do in real life.”

–Sadie, 14 years old

“I’ve become very good at taking pictures of myself.  I know what angle is best, I know how to part my lips…you know.  It’s like the number one thing on my mind is ‘I need to get home right now and take a new profile picture.’  All because I want someone to comment on how I look.”

–Katie, 15 years old

“Social networking affects all the things you do in real life now.  Like, if you go to a party, one of the most important aspects of going to the party is to document yourself for online posts.  You have to prove you were looking good, you were having fun, and that you were actually there!  It’s not about the party anymore but about the pictures of the party.”

–Caroline, 14 years old

“I feel sad, depressed, jealous, or whatever when I don’t get a lot of “Likes” on my photo or when someone else gets way more Likes than me. Honestly, I’m not sure that parents realize how drastically it affects our self-image and confidence. If I see a picture of a really pretty girl, it’s like ‘Goodbye self-esteem.’  It forces me to compete and do stuff that I don’t want to do, so my confidence will get a boost.”

–Samantha, 14 years old

“Sometimes I feel like I’m losing control. I want my parents to tell me to get off the computer. Actually, they would need to literally take the computer away because I can’t stop myself.”

–Nina, 15 years old

“My friendships are really affected by social networking. You have to constantly validate your friends online. And everyone’s like ‘Where were you?’ ‘What have you been doing?’  ‘Why haven’t you commented on my picture yet?’ So you have to be online all the time, just to keep track, so you don’t upset anyone.”

–Jasmine, 13 years old

“There is so much pressure to look happy all the time—you can never just be yourself– because everybody is always taking pictures and posting them.”

–Nikki, 13 years old

“I really want my mom to be proud of me.  Obviously, I want her to think I’m writing my essay or doing things I should be doing instead of being on Facebook.  But I also want to be online. So I lie or accuse her of not trusting me.  It’s awful, but I’ve become really comfortable with lying.”

–Maya, 14 years old

Professor Larry D. Rosen offers this advice:

  • Start young.
  • Listen.
  • Institute family meals with tech breaks.
  • Don’t use your ignorance about technology as an excuse.
  • Don’t rely on secretly monitoring online activities.
  • Look for warning signs.

To read the entire piece, click here.