Popular Teen Apps and Sites

What's trending and where teens spend their time online.

Posted Oct 30, 2017

Robert Churchill/Deposit Photos
Source: Robert Churchill/Deposit Photos

Adolescents love technology. Their devices serve as a phone, camera, radio, communication device, gaming system, calculator, online library, and even a television. With all of the electronic gizmos, no wonder teens are spending more and more time on their devices. In fact, they spend almost as much time online as they do at school during a typical day. According to Common Sense Media, today’s teens spend approximately nine hours per day on social media and youth ages 8 to 12 years spend about six hours. Now, that’s a lot of time, but what are they doing online?

A good amount of that time is spent exploring and playing on apps. Social media apps come and go and some stick around for a while. While many of these apps are fun and harmless, some pose hidden dangers. With surveys showing 73 percent of youth ages 13 to 17 having access to a Smartphone and 87 percent having access to desktops, laptops, and tablets, it is becoming more and more important for parents to be informed about trending apps.

The following are some popular apps that teens use. Most of the sites listed below have the user age requirement of 13. This is due to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 that requires U.S. companies to obtain parental consent to collect data from children under the age of 13. As most of these companies are collecting consumer data, they have to play it safe and state age 13.

Instagram

Instagram, a Facebook-owned company, has been around since 2010 and within a few months of its debut, it had approximately one million users. Today, with over seven million users, Instagram is still a hot app with both adults and teens. A recent study from the University of Chicago revealed 76 percent of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 use Instagram. Instagram is a picture and video sharing app that allows users to share their experiences by showcasing up to 10 pictures and/or videos on one post. Youth like following their friend’s experiences, keeping up with their favorite celebrities, and viewing pictures and videos.

Safety: visit Instagram’s Privacy and Safety Center to learn more about the app.

Snapchat

Snapchat is a popular photo and video sharing site that allows users to send photo messages that are only intended to be seen by the recipient. Snapchat's disappearing messages make the site a hit with teens, although it's easy to take a screenshot before the image disappears. There are also features called “Custom Story” which enables users to share snaps in a sequence for up to 24 hours. According to Statista.com, about 255 million people use this app each day. The University of Chicago revealed that 76.5 percent of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 use Snapchat. Teens like Snapchat because it’s fun and they get to share those silly life moments with their close friends.

Safety: visit Snapchat’s Safety Center to learn more about the app.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp is another Facebook-owned company that is one of the most popular messaging apps in the world. It is used by over 1.3 billion people monthly. Although it’s picking up momentum with teens, it’s still not as popular as Instagram and Snapchat. WhatsApp allows users to send text messages, audio messages, videos, and photos to one or many people with no message limits or fees. It also allows users to privately share edited photos and videos with their contacts. As an added bonus the information disappears after 24 hours. Youth like it because it’s an easy way to connect with friends and family, it’s free, and it allows them to have group chats. 

Safety: visit Staying Safe on WhatsApp to learn more about how to protect your child on the app.

Facebook

Although Facebook isn’t as popular with teens as it used to be (71 percent using it in 2015 compared to 66 percent today), many teens still have an account. It seems that when adults get into teens spaces they move to something new, and that's just what happened to Facebook. One thing that teens like about Facebook is it's super easy to use and they can keep up with family online. Teens tend to prefer the messenger app rather than posting on timelines, as those snooping adults like to get into their business.

Safety: visit Facebook’s Safety Center to learn more about the site.

Twitter

It's the bird that tweets a short song but make no mistake that it only takes a few words to get into hot water (just look at the political scene). Twitter's maximum character count per post is 140. The site has about 328 million users and is used by approximately 47 percent of teens. Teens like it because it’s an easy way to stay current with what’s happening in the media and with their favorite celebrities.

Safety: visit Safety on Twitter to learn more about the app.

Tumblr

Tumblr is a microblogging and social networking app that allows users to write, share and discover blogs about any topic that interests them. With about 368 million users, this site is more popular with people ages 13 to 25 than Facebook. Due to Tumblr’s lack of privacy settings some sites like smartsocial.com place the site on the Red Zone list for younger teens.

Safety: visit Tumblr’s Safety Center to learn more about the app.

Sarahah

With some similarities to AskFM, the Sarahah app is a trending app. According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, the app, now has approximately 95 million registered users. Sarahah, which translates to “honesty” in Arabic, originated as an app for employees to give constructive feedback to their employers, hence the opening prompt: "Leave a constructive message." The app allows users to send anonymous messages about a person’s strengths, and as the site puts it, “areas of improvement." This can be a harmful app for teens because they get to hide behind the mask of anonymity and say whatever they want to the receiver. Teens embed their Sarahah link into their Snap Story on Snapchat and post the link where all of their followers can access it and anonymously comment. Many teens have expressed that the app is fun but parents should heed caution if their teen is using this app, as what may be fun on the user’s end may not be so on the receiving end.

Safety: not available.

Paul Radulescu/Deposit Photos
Source: Paul Radulescu/Deposit Photos

Today’s youth are mesmerized with social media. When it comes to technology, what’s hot today may not be tomorrow. Teens are quick to see something new and give it a try, that is why it is so important for parents to be in the know about trending apps. Teens may be one step ahead when it comes to technology, but that doesn’t mean parents have to be two steps behind. 

References

NORC at the University of Chicago. (2017, April 21). New survey: Snapchat and Instagram are most popular social media platforms among American teens: Black teens are the most active on social media and messaging apps. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170421113306.htm