As this series on social media comes to an end, I want to look at three social networks that for the most part have gone undetected by parents. While many adults are familiar with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, these apps have managed to explode in popularity among teens and young adults while avoiding the attention of many adults.
Previously in the series, I shared why you should care about social media, six resources that will help parents shepherd their families in their use of social media, as well as information on the three giants of social networking: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
But now, I want to focus on those networks that have managed to avoid the spotlight in many ways. My purpose is to raise awareness about these apps among parents so that families can have conversations about how they are using social media in their homes.
1. SnapChat – the social media network that has been dubbed, “the parent’s worst nightmare.”
Snapchat is a photo sharing app with a twist. You take a picture. Send it to a friend. They see the picture. Then it automatically disappears a few seconds later.
SnapChat especially sends shivers down parents’ spine when they hear how SnapChat came into being. I am not saying that every person who uses SnapChat uses it for this purpose, but the guys who invented this app did so in order that they could share inappropriate pictures with girls on their campus and not get caught.
As scary as this sounds, SnapChat is one of the most popular social media networks right now. Many adults just don’t know anything about it.
For more information on using SnapChat, read and download the Parent’s Guide to SnapChat from connectsafely.org.
2. Kik – According to this helpful article that covers multiple social media networks on babble.com, “Kik is an instant messaging service, which means it’s like texting, except you don’t have to give out your phone number. That seems like a good thing on the face of it: you’re not using up minutes and you’re keeping your phone number private. The thing is, it’s pretty easy to monitor your kid’s texting usage: a quick look at your cell phone bill tells you the numbers they’re contacting, the numbers contacting them, and the time of day (math class?!?). It’s impossible to monitor your kid’s usage on kik. Besides the messaging capability, kik users can search for and share YouTube videos, reddit images, sketches, and more.”
An important thing for you to know about Kik that is not mentioned in this review is just how prevalent adult material is on the app. There is no adult content filter for Kik. In fact much of the adult content that finds it way on to Instagram is from Kik.
If you have a daughter on social media, parents, you need to know just how many sexual predators, how many men are using apps like Kik, SnapChat, and Vine to take inappropriate pictures and put them on your students screens. They are everywhere on these “three unknowns”.
When we talk about adult content and pornography, its not just a talk for boys. You’re girls are under attack as well.
So if you allow your student to have Kik, you must be vigilant in walking alongside your student to live in wisdom and purity.
3. Vine – If you have heard of one of these three lesser known apps, it is probably Vine.
Many of which are explicit pornography. Like Kik, there is no adult-content filter on Vine. Adult content is everywhere on Vine.
An important issue that you should talk to your students about on Vine and other apps is their use of hashtags. Many producers of adult-content on apps like Vine and Kik use popular hashtags to direct people to their explicit videos in hopes of making people stumble upon their videos even when they’re not looking. Your student may be just looking up videos that are tagged #funny and stumble upon explicit material that has been given that hashtag by its producer.
Like SnapChat and Kik, Vine is incredibly popular with the younger crowd but has managed to remain relatively unknown by many parents.
The Never Ending List – The truth is hundreds and thousands of new apps pop everyday. There’s no way we could talk about each and every one of them.
But again, you cannot escape it. Its not going anywhere. Social media is here to stay.
So instead of trying to escape in a panic, we need to intentionally and proactively train our children on what it looks like to connect with one another on social media in a way that honors the Lord.
As parents, you have every right to know about what’s going on in your house and on your student’s screens. Have discussions. Ask questions. Point them to wisdom and grace.
The good news is this: You do not need to know details about every single app that is available right now in order to shepherd your family.
But you should know every app that your student is using. Take your students phone or tablet for a few minutes, write down the names of the apps she is using. Google the ones you don’t know anything about. Use the resources I gave you in Part 2. Have conversations.
1 Corinthians 6:12 says “I will not be dominated by anything.” We cannot be dominated by social media. Be proactive in leading your family to use social media in a way that honors the Lord.
This series on social media has not been intended to scare you to the point that you forbid anyone in your house from using social media. Instead I hope this will help start conversations among your family in your home.
I would love to hear from you. What are some apps that your students are using a lot right now but are maybe not as well known as Facebook and Instagram?