Most Popular Social Networks for Youth

May 1, 2017

*Note: Age requirements for the following sites is 13 years old. See our article, “Social Media Age Requirements” for more information on this.

In a 2015 study, Pew Research Center reported that 92% of teens are on social media daily with 56% going on several times throughout the day and an astonishing 24% going on “almost constantly”. The constant use of social media is likely due to the fact that 71% of teens use more than one network site. This mean there is a good chance your child is on social media, despite your awareness of it. If they are on social media, here are the likely sites.

Facebook – Facebook remains the most used social media site among American teens ages 13 to 17 with 71% of all teens using the site, even as half of teens use Instagram and four-in-ten use Snapchat. Boys are more likely to use Facebook.

Instagram – Over 52% of American teenagers reported to have an Instagram account. Locally, this number seems to be much higher and is often the platform for direct messaging and cyber bullying. Girls are more likely to use Instagram than boys are. Given the concern over female body stereotypes and developing positive self-image, this is particularly worrisome.

Snapchat – In the past few years Snapchat has garnered a lot of attention and seems to be attracting younger users. The premise behind Snapchat is that a story is shared using short 3-10 second images that “disappear” after being viewed. This networking platform has been under scrutiny due to the number of exposed photos being exchanged by youth. Despite the photos “disappearing” after a determined length of time, a quick “screenshot” would allow the viewer to capture the photo (though the sender would be notified).

Twitter – Though not as popular, Twitter is another platform teens are using to communicate with another and follow friends, bands, actors/actresses, and anyone else that tweets. Followers and users can send private messages to one another, so it can be used as a platform for direct conversations as well. Twitter is a fast way to get information out. It’s also a fast way to for teens to say something they shouldn’t. It only takes a few seconds to tweet something that can come back to bite the sender.

Google+ – Google+ is a social networking platform that brings all of Google’s services together for users to enjoy. Google+ features the ability to post photos and status updates to communities. Communities allow users to engage in ongoing conversations about particular topics of interest. The program also allows users to group their relationships with others in circles. One particularly dangerous feature of Google+ is hangouts. Hangouts is a free video chat service that can call up to 10 people through the Google+ or a mobile app. As with all social networking, privacy settings need to be secure. When a teen shares information with his/her circle it can be re-shared to someone else’s circle. An exception is that Google does allow options to limit re-sharing which is a “+”. However, like many other sites, people can take screen shots of the content.

Betty Gilbert Middle School

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