The use of mobile apps have completely changed how we live, communicate, interact, and get things done. Apps serve many purposes but we are most attracted to them because they streamline processes, help us communicate quickly, and share instantly.
Teens have always liked taking, cropping, enhancing, and sharing photos and videos, and commenting on each other’s lives. Before the world of apps, the processes might have looked a little differently—taking pictures with a disposable camera, creating scrapbook pages or passing intricately folded notes under the desk—but the purposes for teens haven’t changed. Now, teens take photos using the cameras on their phone, enhance them with digital features, and instantly start conversations by sharing content on the web. And what mobile apps are teens using to do this?
The two fastest-growing mobile applications for teens are Instagram and Snapchat. Both of these apps focus on a user’s ability to share photo and video with followers or groups of people. Though most teens use these applications simply to share content and start conversations, the consistent use of an application comes with risks.
Check out these tips for teaching teens how to manage those risks:
- Good manners still apply to the digital world. Though the digital world might not be everyone’s realm of expertise, it is not so very different from the physical world. Help your teen understand that actions we say are wrong in the physical world are still wrong on the Internet. It’s still wrong to make fun of someone. It’s still wrong to bully another person. It’s still wrong to lie. Consider having a conversation that starts with “What’s the impression you want to leave on the web?”
- Reputation matters. Teens need to know that what they put out on the Internet, how they choose to respond to others, and what they advertise they like or don’t like, shapes their identity and personality on the web. Ideally, their identity on the web should reflect their identity in the physical world.
- Be careful with strangers. This is not unlike what children have already learned about Stranger Danger. Translate the conversation to the digital world and warn them about the differences between interactions online and interactions in the physical world. In the digital world, it is easier to lie, pass yourself off as someone else, and say what you want to say without filter. Teach a child explicit strategies for how to “run away” on the web.” Click out. Block them. Log off. Tell an adult. The language sounds a little different but the message is same—help yourself stay safe.
For more information on Instagram and Snapchat, please check out the following guides specifically designed for parents:
Do you have other questions about social media? Leave your suggestions in the comment section below.
Written by Nadirshah Velasquez