lytle1This week we have a special guest posting genius, Ms Eden Lytle, who is sort of amazeballs at everything she does (trust us!). Eden is a senior at Brentwood High School in Nashville TN, and she kindly indulged us in a chat about how hard it is for academic parents to get a sense of what’s frightening and what’s fantastic in the ever changing world of social media. As the school year cranks up again, Eden kindly agreed to offer some much needed #ProTipsForParents on navigating social media with your tweens and teens. 

It’s not just in your head, parents. The social media landscape is actually evolving faster than you can keep up, and it is hard to know what is safe, what isn’t, and what your children are really doing on social media. As a 17 year old, I feel that I have a pretty good perspective on what’s popular, what’s not, and what you, as parents, might need to be monitoring.

Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat are the hottest apps among teens, in my experience. And while there are ragingly hot dating apps like tinder, bumble, and, hot or not, no teen should be on those sites, so I vote to encourage your child to steer clear, even if they are just on there as a joke.

Alright so let’s start with Instagram, my personal favorite. If you don’t know already Instagram is an app where you can post pictures, accompanied by a caption, for your followers to view in a feed. Depending on who is posting, these pictures can consist of what’s for dinner, to beach pictures on an exotic island, and everything in between. This is really not ‘just’ a teen app as lots of parents on Instagram, and they have fantastic ways to jazz up your photos, so if you feel like you want to be in the loop, create an account yourself! One nice feature of this platform is that if you are worried about just anyone being able to view your child’s photos, encourage them to have a private account, which only allows people who they accept to view their profile. And you aren’t being overly protective if you ask for this. In my experience, most people I know have private accounts. Having random people to see a million photos of their face, or where they are. Overall, Instagram is mostly harmless fun, and rarely leads to any trouble.

social-media-gifNext is Twitter. Twitter functions a lot like Instagram, but instead of posting pictures, you are posting 140 characters worth of anything and everything. Many find Twitter annoying considering the amount of useless things tweeted, so its definitely not for everyone. Also like Instagram, Twitter allows your account to be private if you wish. But this is a less popular option that keeps others from being able to ‘retweet’ your tweets, Children for some reason feel more comfortable posting whatever they want on twitter than instagram, probably because the number of parents and adults in general using twitter is far less. That being said most kids have no problems with what they say on twitter, but if your child is known for saying suggestive things I would give it a look.

Now about Snapchat….Snapchat probably has the worst reputation of the three main social media sites teens use. This, however, does not mean that just because your child has a snapchat, they are sending terrible things. Snapchat allows you to send pictures, and now messages, to individuals that will disappear in between 110 seconds. This gets many folks in trouble because although it goes away that doesn’t stop people from capturing a screen shot and saving it onto their phones forever. This as a parent is probably the most difficult to monitor, due to the fact that it doesn’t save anything you send or receive within the app.

You will be happy to hear that the majority of kids use this app just to send funny pictures of themselves back and forth to their friends, all the time, I might add. The younger ones especially (preteen and such) are the most obsessed with constantly sending pointless photos to their friends just because they like using the many filters that snapchat allows you to put on the pictures before you send them. So, moral of the story is if your child has a snapchat and seems to be on it constantly, don’t be alarmed until you have a legitimate reason to be. However, if the kid does get him/herself into trouble often, I would advise deleting this app, because they could be using this to communicate things they don’t want you to see. Just like your children, you can get a Snapchat as well, but it more than likely won’t prove very effective in watching over your kids because the individualized nature of the app will only allow you to see what your child sends you specifically.

Long story short? Seeing your children spend time on the internet can be terrifying — it seems so foreign and unlike you were a part of as a child. This is totally understandable, but take a deep breath, parents. Social media has many positive impacts on our society and offers a sense of community for those can’t find one where they live, facilitates communication amongst friends, and serves as an artistic outlet for many who want to express their individuality through pictures and words in new ways. As long as you know what to look out for, (and now you do!) social media can be an enjoyable and safe experience for your family of academics.

We told you she was pretty cool!

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