Welcome 2017! It’s going to be a fantastic year, and social media is going to be just as popular this year as it was in 2016. Speaking of 2016… wow, did we ever see some exciting changes taking place on all the social platforms. We thought we would take this opportunity to review some of the changes that have taken place over the past year on some of the more popular platforms the kids like to use and what that means for them and you to still be #sociallysafe while using them.
First things first, it’s a new month and a new year. When was the last time you changed your passwords? We love the idea of passwords; they help protect you and keep your accounts private so that only you can access them. Keep in mind when setting accounts up for either yourself or your children, you want to use strong passwords. They are also something that should be kept private and you really want to talk to the kids about the importance of not sharing their passwords. When we speak to the kids we do tell them it is VERY important that their parents/trusted adult have their passwords, not to spy on them but so they can help to keep you safe online. We all know that friends are important to the kids and that they could never imagine their BFF doing anything wrong or to hurt them. But of course, it does happen and we see it all the time. What can start as a funny joke ends up to be a bad situation… friends can change your passwords and then they are locked out of their accounts.
When creating your passwords you want to use a minimum of 8 characters. Try to use both upper and lower case, numbers and special characters or symbols. Use passwords that you will remember but others will not be able to guess. Do not use any personal information like your birth date for your passwords. Use unique passwords for different accounts – if one gets hacked you don’t want all your accounts accessible. Change your passwords regularly.
While we are looking at helping to keep your children safe online let’s look at a few of the changes that happened to various social media platforms over the year. It’s important that you both do the required updates when the social platforms come out with them as many times they are fixing any bugs and viruses that they may have. So we encourage you to keep up with the updates when they become available and to be on the same social platforms as your kids.
Let’s take a look at some of the social media platforms and the changes that happened.
Instagram… What a year they had! They had so many changes throughout 2016 – even how we see Instagram as an icon is more colourful and bright when they launched their new logo earlier in 2016. This platform has gone from just posting pictures to now you can add stories and video. Stories are updates that will disappear after 24 hours of you posting them. You can also go live with your stories, live stories will also disappear. Let’s not forget about boomerang and all the stickers you can now add to your pictures. If you are using IOS you can also save your stories to video on your camera roll. We still encourage you to set your account as private and remember that when you use hashtags (#sociallysafe) the hashtag becomes a public searchable post so your post will be public if someone is searching the same hashtag you’ve used. Another new update we’ve seen is Instagram Direct, this is where you can now send disappearing photos or videos, along with text messages and posts to your friends. The age to sign up for Instagram remains at 12. Instagram is still one of the most popular apps with the tweens/teens.
Snapchat… This app has really gained in popularity over the year with not only the teens and tweens, but we’re seeing more adults are starting to use it and have some fun on it as well as many businesses. Snapchat has made some changes throughout the year with the latest update in December adding Snapchat group chats allowing you to chat with up to 16 of your friends. After 24 hours group chats are deleted. You can now also cut stickers from your snaps using Scissors. There is also paintbrush which is in the memories section and it allows you to draw on your snaps. You are also able to identify songs with Shazam. Snapchat did lower the user age to 12 this year. One thing to keep in mind before you send snaps to your friends is that anyone can screenshot and save your snap. If someone does take a picture of your snap you will get an alert that your snap was just screenshot. So as always you want to #THINK before you snap.
Houseparty… It’s the newest app gaining a lot of popularity. This app is available on both apple and android and is a group video sharing app. Once you download the Houseparty app you are able to invite your friends to join you. When your friends have connected and they join the party you will get an alert that you are “in the house” and you are now able to start a video chat with them. One thing to know about this app is that if you are in a chat with a friend and another friend happens to log on they are also able to join your conversation. You can currently have up to 8 people in a video chat at one time. In order for people to join into a conversation they only have to be connected to one person in the chat to be able to join. What this means is that you could be talking to strangers because of the mutual connection. That being said, Houseparty does give you the option to lock your conversations. We like this idea as once the conversation has been locked if someone should try to join in they are not able to do so. If your children are going to be using Houseparty we encourage you to get them in the habit of locking their conversations. If the room does happen to get unlocked by someone in the chat all participants in that chat get an alert that the room is unlocked. Something to be aware of is that if someone in the video chat does happen to take a screenshot the group members are not notified that someone has taken a picture of the video. Although rooms are locked you still don’t want to your child to be sharing any personal information or images on this platform.
These are just a few of the biggest updates on the more popular platforms with the tweens and teens. Before the updates and new changes become available to you on your social platforms you must do the updates available in the app store. We want you and your kids to have fun on social media while being aware of who they are connecting to, what they are sharing and remember that screenshots can be taken. It’s a New Year, time to create a positive digital footprint that you can both be proud of. Share all the good that your child is doing and remember to be #SociallySafe!
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About Socially Safe
Stacy Maynard & Kerry Hills are moms with successful social media businesses. We have a passion for helping children understand how to use social media safely. We have joined together to implement into classrooms and the community our Socially Safe, Socially Fun, Social Media programs. We are Moms of kids between the ages of 8 to 15, so we understand the need to help our kids stay safe and create a positive digital footprint. Social Media is not going away and we are passionate about teaching our kids how to use it, have fun and stay Socially Safe.