Social Media Apps Parents Should Know About

Learn the pros, cons, and best practices for the most popular social sites and apps your tweens and teens are using. By Caroline Knorr
Topics: Social Media
Social Media Apps Parents Should Know About

Remember when we worried that 140-character tweets would ruin kids' attention spans? Now that seems quaint next to some of the social media that's gobbling up our teens' time: messages that disappear (but actually don't). Video you can stream live from your bedroom. Chatting with strangers. The truth is, everything seems scary at first. Yes, some social media introduces features that seem misguided at best and downright dangerous at worst. But even Twitter spawned novels written in 140-character installments.

Social media can offer innovative ways to communicate, connect, and even create. And kids and teens are much more likely to use it responsibly when parents discuss the pros, cons, and best practices. You just need to kick the tires a little bit to understand the risks and rewards. Check out these FAQs about the most popular social media and gaming apps:

What Should Parents Know About Instagram?
The most popular social image-sharing site is creative and fun, but comments can be crushing.

What Should Parents Know About Kik?
Because you sign up with a username and not your phone number, Kik lets you chat with a much wider range of people, including strangers.

What Should Parents Know About Periscope?
One of the first apps to let people live-stream (use their phones to broadcast video to the internet as it's happening), Periscope has a lot of potential, but it's also kinda creepy.

What Should Parents Know About Snapchat?
Currently killing it with teens, Snapchat lets you share messages that self-destruct after they're read, but it turns out messages actually never disappear.

What Should Parents Know About Steam?
Steam is a social gaming site offering both free and fee-based downloads (not all age-appropriate), multiplayer action, and chatting with gamer buds.

What Should Parents Know About Tumblr?
One of the internet's most popular places for creative self-expression, Tumblr offer a huge range of user-generated content that's not always age-appropriate.

What Should Parents Know About Twitch?
Twitch is where gamers go to watch more advanced gamers live-stream themselves playing games. Violent content and unscripted language are the biggest issues.

What Should Parents Know About Twitter?
With the ability to follow celebs such as Taylor Swift as well as the girl next door, Twitter is a staple of teens' lives, offering news, current events, and, yes, some drama.

What Should Parents Know About Vine?
Vine's six-second looping videos can be funny and entertaining but also mature.

About Caroline Knorr

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As Common Sense Media's parenting editor, Caroline helps parents make sense of what’s going on in their kids' media lives. From games to cell phones to movies and more, if you're wondering "what’s the right age for…?"... Read more

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Comments (11)

Kid, 10 years old

Caroline, could you please say something about the app Funimate? It is like except you can add special effects. Look it up on the App Store.
Adult written by Harlene G.

This article is really helpful for parents. Digital and social media is now just a normal part of life. When it comes to Internet safety, there's no substitute for parental supervision. The best safeguard against online dangers is being informed. Protect every aspect of your children's digital life with MomSecure. MomSecure was created for parents from a need to protect and shield children from content they could access but shouldn’t. Visit us at for more online safety blogs and digital guide.
Parent of a 5 and 7 year old written by NatGeoLaura

I work at National Geographic Kids and oversee a moderated photo-sharing community for kids called My Shot. It is not an app, but is a great way to introduce tweens to the world of social media. Kids can upload their favorite photos, get photography tips, rate photos, and comment on other members' pictures. Kids must have parental permission to join and all photos and comments are viewed by an adult moderator before they are posted to the site. I am biased, of course, but I find it to be a very supportive and fun community!
Parent written by mwitwer

Thanks for this. My 12 year old does not have a smart phone, and just got an iPad this year. I believe there are more negatives than positives for children using devices more than for an occasional game, visit with a friend or to look up/share useful information or music. I think "social media" is an oxymoron. No app or device is needed to be social.
Adult written by Jsivaches

What if your kid is shy? Online you don't have to look at someone to talk to them. If anything it's at least good practice / fun.
Adult written by EMCNC

as a parent with 4 kids, i see very little "upside" to any of the social media world for our kids/tweens and teens. We have a family smartphone, if the kids want to text their friends they use the family phone (which is mine!). I don't want my kids wasting hours of the day on senseless social media. I just wish parent knew that their kids DON'T have to participate in any of this, and they will be just fine. I'm actually shocked that intelligent parents let their kids do this stuff. It's quite easy to say No, and focus on other, more beneficial activities.
Parent written by Irismama

I was also hoping you would have information on It has become very popular among 4th graders this year. Thank you for this article on social media.
Parent of a 17 year old written by Caroline Knorr

Thanks for your comment on We rate the app - your music video community age 16 ( We'll keep an eye on it and do something more in-depth soon!
Adult written by tsaywhat

I agree with Mixyplixl regarding It is very popular and has inappropriate content. The other issue is that you can allow you can download others videos from others and I think that is also a downside to this site. I too would like to hear a CSM review re: thanks
Adult written by Mixyplixl

What about My 10-year-old tells me all her friends are on it and posting videos, but in looking at Common Sense Media reviews, it looks like there is a lot of VERY inappropriate stuff posted on it.