Twitter

Website review by
Susan Yudt, Common Sense Media
Twitter Website Poster Image
Fun social tool, but use the privacy controls.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 261 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 472 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this website.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about communication skills while using Twitter, including how you distill a great idea into 140 characters. It takes critical-thinking and writing skills to economize language Twitter-style, and kids will have to respond quickly to keep up with the usually fast-paced conversations. The skills kids learn can translate into the classroom in, for example, a teacher-moderated debate or answering pop quiz questions in one sentence, focusing on the important points. Twitter can expose kids to a lot of content -- some that's better suited for older users -- but they'll also see information about technology, politics, culture, and other topics. Often, news breaks on Twitter, so it's great for current events. Twitter also can be a great place to promote discussion and develop social media skills.

Positive Messages

Some positive tweeters, but also some jerks. Content depends on what user decides to read, follow.

Violence

Live streams via Meerkat, Periscope may contain unmoderated violent content.

 

Sex

Teens can search Twitter, which can yield tweets (posts) with sexual comments, links to porn sites. Live streams via Meerkat, Periscope also may contain sexual content.

Language

Language isn't restricted, so there's plenty of profanity.

Consumerism

Companies, celebrities frequently use Twitter as an advertising vehicle to promote products, services. Users can sign up to follow feeds that offer discounts, other consumer deals. App also allows people, companies to embed video, which many businesses are using to air commercials (though they don't automatically play in feed). Live streams via Meerkat, Periscope may contain advertising content, ads can have "Buy" buttons, and using certain emoji can trigger specific ads; for example, using the pizza emoji may trigger pads for Domino's.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Given Twitter's lack of censorship, kids may very well come across posts mentioning drugs, smoking, alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Twitter is a free "microblogging" and social-networking site that brings up issues of safety, privacy, and a lasting digital footprint. The service allows users to post 140-character messages and follow their friends' activities. Updates appear immediately, and, though you can delete tweets, if other users have reposted them with a comment of their own, those tweets will remain. Teen users would benefit from keeping their tweets private and individually approving followers. Parents also should know that Twitter is increasingly being used as a promotional tool for products and celebrities, though users can limit their exposure to ads and promotions by keeping their Twitter circles among real friends. There's also loads of mature content. The app poses some additional issues. It can post the user's location (street name and city) with each tweet, but users must opt in to the feature. The recent addition of native video also has resulted in many more video ads appearing in the app, and they autoplay unless that feature is disabled in settings. Additionally, users can conduct a group private chat -- not visible to outside users -- which might worry some parents. Live-streaming features such as Meerkat and Periscope may contain all manner of content, so keep that in mind as your teens use Twitter.

User Reviews

Parent Written bySunbeam7x3 April 9, 2014

Inappropriate Material On Seemingly Innocent Accounts

I have my own personal twitter account. I subscribe to innocent accounts like "Wikipedia Facts" and "Love Notebook". They might be getting h... Continue reading
Adult Written byFutt747 February 11, 2016

Horrendous

Asks for mobile numbers to login before you can use it. No respect for privacy, lots of inappropriate content. It's no wonder their stock is plummeting. FB... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old January 22, 2011
Teen, 13 years old Written bytigger100 May 22, 2010

What's it about?

TWITTER is an online social-networking and microblogging platform that lets users communicate through 140-character messages ("tweets"). Millions of people use it to keep up with news, gossip, weather, and more. Once you sign up, you can follow other users, who'll show up in a scrolling list of real-time tweets. A Moments tab premiered in October 2015, featuring "the best of what's happening on Twitter in an instant," according to the site, including sports, entertainment, and other tweets. Users also can stream live video into their feed.

Is it any good?

Twitter can be great for keeping in touch with friends or keeping up with what's going on in the world, especially trends in technology and breaking news. Twitter attracts a lot of Web-savvy users, but it isn't really meant for kids. The ability to post anything you want can get kids in trouble if they say something in the heat of the moment. The service's location-sharing features also make it too easy for kids to post their whereabouts, which can lead to face-to-face meet-ups with strangers. Finally, some tweets in the site's Moments section sound like plugs for various TV shows, and Twitter allows kids to receive tweets directly from celebrities they admire, such as sports stars, actors, and musicians. These messages can be extremely influential to impressionable minds (and are very often promoting products the celeb is getting paid to promote).

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what's safe to post and what's not (for example, "prnts gone, party @ 123 main st tonite!!") and why it's a good idea for teens to limit tweeting to friends. How do you know if you can trust someone enough to make that person a "friend" with access to your private information?

  • For more information about Twitter, check out our video "What Is Twitter?" Does this make you want to use Twitter more or less?

  • Discuss what's a reasonable amount of time to spend using Twitter and related services, since it's very easy to get carried away. Why is it important to give yourself breaks from social media?

Website details

For kids who love keeping up with friends and news

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