Pew Internet reports 1 in 4 teens have a smartphone and 63 percent text every day. In fact, according to the most recent stats reported by Nielsen, teens between the ages of 13 and 17 sent an average of 3,364 mobile texts per month in 2011, the most recent year the company reported this statistic. And with all the texting apps on the market, teens don’t even need a cellphone to text. Check out some of the ways kids are social networking and texting, along with reviews of the apps and age guidelines courtesy of child and family media watchdog commonsensemedia.org. Next
Goobit is a good introduction for kids to the social networking app world, reports commonsensemedia.org. Everloop is a social networking website for kids age 8 to 15. Goobit, the mobile version, is appropriate for kids age 10 and up, says commonsensemedia.org. “Be cool, be clean, be confidential” the app tells kids when they sign up. Kids can join groups, post photos, videos, and send Goobs (virtual practical jokes like the whoopee cushion, above) to their friends. There is an Everloop parent account parents can use to keep up with their child’s activity.
If your kids have an iPod Touch but not a cellphone, they can still text with no problem. They can use texting apps such as textPlus, Textfree Unlimited, TextNow, BrightKite Group Text, Textie messaging, and Tiger Text. Read more about all of them. Kids like to use Textfree Unlimited, which commonsensemedia.org says is appropriate for kids age 13 and up. It assigns kids a “phone number” they use to send and receive texts. Commonsensemedia.org reminds parents to monitor what kids are texting.
Kik is a popular way kids seeking a life-like chat experience text each other, but some parents have concerns about the privacy settings on this app.
Are you a parent wondering if your kid should get on Kik? Read this Kik Messenger review by commonsensemedia.org, which explains why it may not be appropriate for kids under age 16.
Kids are communicating through pictures on this app, which lets kids reply and get replies on photos. But parents beware: There is no moderation of submitted photos so your children could be viewing inappropriate content. Read the commonsensemedia.org review to see why it’s not recommended for kids under age 14.
Instagram users can enhance, share, and comment on private photos they post. Instagram wants its users to be at least 13 years old. There is not enough moderation of photos and comments to make it totally safe for kids, reports commonsensemedia.org. For advice on how to help manage your child’s use of photos on the Internet, check out these tips: Helping kids manage online photos.
.$.99 for iPhone; free for the first year (then $.99 a year) for Android, BlackBerry, Nokia S40, Nokia Symbian, Window Phone; www.whatsapp.com.
Kids can send 140-character messages (called tweets) out to a network of followers. Twitter says its users should be 13 and up, but Commonsensemedia.org recommends kids be 15 to use this powerful social networking app. Twitter can help kids stay up on current events and learn about virtually any topic. But parents be aware that this app has the ability to post the user’s location (street and city) with each tweet. Talk to your teen about using the privacy setting to keep tweets within a known group of friends and remember that Twitter is not always used in a positive manner so kids could be exposed to bullying, negative messages, and misinformation, warns Commonsensemedia.org.
This popular social networking app allows its users to share messages, links, photos, and videos with friends. Kids can also “check in” to show friends where they are. Facebook wants its users to be at least 13. However, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal, in 2011 7.5 million children under the age of 13 used Facebook and more than five million were under the age of 10. Commonsensemedia.org says kids should be 14 to use the Facebook app and parents should remind kids to be diligent with privacy settings (for example, who can contact you via e-mail, who sees your posts, who you can block). Parents beware that, depending on the Facebook pages they check out, kids may be exposed to information about violence, drugs, sex, and bad language.
No phone? No problem. Just bump fists!
Younger kids can get in on the texting craze without using an app or a phone by wearing these Text Bands, sold by Hallmark. Kids just type in a 10-character or less message, bump fists or shake hands, and the message swaps and appears on each other’s Text Band. Good news for parents: There is a bad language filter built in. There are eight different styles of bands, including Darth Vader, Minnie Mouse, and Pink Glitterati.
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below