Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

So many options:

The new generation of social media preferred by teens is allowing anonymous usage which isn't always a good thing for parents.
By Kirsten Anthony
Date: December 02 2014
Tags: social media,
Editor Rating:

Eighteen months ago, teenagers were fleeing Facebook. One year later, they came back. But more recent reports are suggesting that teens are over Facebook once and for all.

Facebook has become ‘uncool’ (if that’s still a ‘cool’ word to use) in favour of Twitter, Instagram and SnapChat, with usage of Facebook plummeting from 72% to 45% amongst 13-19 year olds.

Of course there are surveys out about this type of social practice almost every day. And anyone with a teen knows that their whims can be fairly volatile – hence the changes from May 2013 to May 2014 and November 2014, but this latest survey from Piper Jaffray involves 7,200 13-19 year-old students, evenly balanced in terms of gender and household income.

Among the survey’s other findings:

  • Kids love Apple products above any other consumer tech brand, though only 16% were interested in the iWatch.
  • They overwhelmingly predicted that, by 2018, they’d watch all their movies on Netflix which is being introduced into Australia next year.

None of this helps explain why teens like the things they do, a question as old and impenetrable as time. Both research and anecdote would suggest, of course, that it has something to do with the presence of adults on the site, as well as the typically high-school plagues of oversharing and in-fighting.

The recent rise of anonymous social apps - things like Whisper and Yik Yak - would also seem to suggest a wish to escape the confines and responsibilities of a fixed online identity. That should perhaps worry parents, of both the helicopter and ‘cool’ variety: you can’t really interact with - or check up on - your kids on either of these platforms the way you do Facebook.

According to experts such as Marion Merritt of Norton, the single most important way to keep up-to-date with what your teenagers are doing online is to have an ongoing dialogue with them, encourage them to let you know what they’re doing and to have family discussions about safe online use.

According to Stay Smart Online, parents can also:

  • Use internet content filters, which are available from your ISP, as they can:
    • recognise offensive web content and restrict access to it
    • be individually set for different members of your family
    • set time limits for online use
    • help you monitor the online activities of your family members.
  • Discuss the kinds of sites that are okay to explore, and those that are not. Let your kids and teens know that not all websites are suitable for them.
  • Explore the internet together and bookmark websites for them that you have approved.
  • Talk to your kids about the risks. Encourage them to come to you if they see anything inappropriate online and let them know that their privileges will not be taken away if they do.
  • Encourage the use of computers and mobile devices in a common area, like the family room or the kitchen to make it easier to monitor online use.
  • Explain how to recognise spam, usually messages from people or organisations you do not know, and delete them without opening them.
  • Support your child and explain that if they are not sure about whether they should be sharing something online to ask an adult first.
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