What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Path is an interesting development in the world of social networking apps like Facebook and Twitter. On Path, users select a maximum of 150 "high-quality" friends with which to interact, post "moments," share media, and message individual users privately. Path also acts as a sort of clearinghouse for users' larger social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare, Instagram, and Tumblr. Path users can send info they post on Path to their accounts on the larger social networks like Facebook, or they can import posts from elsewhere to Path. In this way, Path is hoping users keep it as their primary social networking app and share most personal info with those 150 people closest to them, and become more choosy as they fan out to other social networking sites. Path has a lot of promise for more deliberate personal information sharing. Still, there are some concerns with privacy, as teens' location is tracked for the automatic neighborhood feature (it can be turned off), and teen Path accounts must be set to private in privacy settings or that info is automatically public. Overall, Path is a beautiful app with a fascinating concept that has (as with most social networking apps) some privacy and safety concerns.
What kids can learn
- multiple forms of expression
- conveying messages effectively
- friendship building
- social media
Engagement, Approach, Support
Highly engaging, full of interaction, easy to use and well-designed. A range of emoticons to "like" other friends' posts add a fun element. To be engaging for teens, their friends must be on Path, too.
This empowering, highly social app isn't designed to be educational. Still, its ability to connect with larger social networks can help teens practice appropriately disseminating information.
Brief tutorial text helps new users. It would be nice to see more info clearly presented to teen users about use of account settings to protect privacy and location. There's an excellent FAQ on the app's website.
What's it about?
Sign up for an account on Path, and choose whether you want to link to your device's contact list as well as the social media account that you want this app to connect with in order to find your 150 friends. Enter a profile and photo, as well as a background image to represent your account. Then start sharing "moments," messaging, liking other posts, and crossposting to other social networking accounts. Posts can be searched, and photo filters and stickers can be purchased (some are free). Lots to share and find on this innovative app.
Is it any good?
Path is unquestionably a beautiful app, much better looking and well-designed than other social networking apps. Its 150-friend limit -- based on research that people have a maximum number of significant social relationships -- seems like a great idea for more meaningful online interaction. Especially when paired with the feature that users can disseminate posts to their other social media accounts from Path when they choose to share some posts more widely with more acquaintances, this sort of filter just makes sense.
Whether most teens will warm to this idea is the question. Part of the draw to Facebook for peer-focused teens is having zillions of friends and as many "likes" as possible on their posts and photos. Still, easier media sharing (like music), recording private voice messages, and the search feature, as well as some of the other more quirky features -- like the ability to not just "like" posts but also to use smile, laugh, gasp, frown, or love emoticons -- may win many teens over to Path. With the right use of privacy settings and the awareness that there may be good reasons to share personal information, even just daily happenings, with people truly closer to you in real life, Path may be a useful evolution in social media apps.
Families can talk about...
Talk to your teens about using the appropriate privacy settings for their Path accounts, as well as safe information sharing across social media.
Ask your teen: Who are your closest friends you would include on a "limited" social media account? Why do you consider them close friends?