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Instagram and Snapchat Go Head to Head in Popularity with Teens

A recent report by Mashable found that about 85% of teenagers use Instagram at least once a month, in comparison to 84% who use Snapchat the same amount.  The research survey polled about 8,600 teenagers across the U.S. with an average age of 16. While the usage is neck in neck, 46% say Snapchat is their preferred social platform compared to 32% who favor Instagram.

Other findings from the survey show that Amazon was the most preferred teen’s shopping website (47%), with Nike coming in at a not-so-close second (5%), and that Netflix is the number one streaming service. Teens spend 38 percent of their time each day watching Netflix, "well ahead" of YouTube at 33 percent, Piper Jaffray said. Apple grew its share of the wristwatch market among teens to 17 percent, with the Apple Watch ranking as teenagers' second most popular watch.

FOMO – Victims and Rescuers

The proliferation of Social Media in society today has led many of us, including our children, to feel some form of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) when scrolling through the daily posts of our online friends. Experts looking into the psychology behind FOMO say that the fear of missing out comes in several forms, including “Victim FOMO” and “Rescuer FOMO”. Those who identify as FOMO Victims believe that they are only worthy when they are included. When they aren’t included or don’t know what’s going on, they assume it’s because nobody likes them or somebody is mad at them. Rescuers, on the other hand, need to feel smart and competent to boost their ego. They look for victims to save by giving advice and swooping in with solutions (although often walking the line of coming across as condescending). Take a look at the article What Does Your FOMO look like? to learn more.

Americans Distrust Social Media Bots

Social media bots that operate without human involvement to post content and interact with human users are a growing concern related to the spread of political misinformation online. A Pew Research Center survey shows that 8 in 10 Americans are aware of the bots and believe they are used for malicious purposes. While the public’s overall impression of social media bots is negative, many people have more nuanced views about specific uses of bots such as the government using them to post emergency updates. Make sure you discuss the use of bots with your kids – perhaps another form of “stranger danger?”

Instagram Hate Pages – More Tools for Cyberbullying

For most teens, Instagram is the “go to” app for communicating (72 percent  of teens use it according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center), so it is no surprise that many are finding a whole lot of drama, bullying and gossip on the platform. Unfortunately, due to its widespread nature and size of the app’s distribution mechanism, rude comments or harassing images can go viral within hours. Like Twitter, Instagram also makes it easy to set up new anonymous profiles, which can be used specifically for trolling. Most importantly, interactions on the app are often hidden from the watchful eyes of parents and teachers, many of who don’t understand the platform’s intricacies.  

The company has recently announced a set of new features aimed at combatting bullying, including comment filters on live videos, machine-learning technology to detect bullying in photos, and a “kindness camera effect to spread positivity”, but their effectiveness is yet to be seen. Instagram is many teens’ entire social infrastructure and some may argue that it is inevitable for bullying to happen in any social environment.

Parents Sign A Pledge to Restrict Social Media Access of Kids Under 13

A Monmouth county New Jersey school district has asked parents to sign a pledge barring students' access to social media until they are 13 years old because they are not "emotionally mature enough to handle it," says Superintendent John Marciante. The district's request comes after an incident occurred between students in a chat room using the app House Party that led to a threat of a school shooting. Some feel that such a ban could never be enforceable, but it still brings up the question about the age appropriateness of social media platforms.

Ideas for Educating Teens About Social Media

Teen centers in New Jersey are spearheading efforts to teach students about the effects of social media use. The counseling and educational awareness sessions also focus on how to safely use social media and mobile devices, with emphasis on understanding how much of an impact the use of technology can have not only on a specific individual, but on those around them.

Facebook Launches Pilot Program To Protect Political Campaigns

Facebook has launched a new program that is designed to protect political campaigns from cyberthreats. Campaigns enrolled in the program will have access to security tools, and the social media network will provide proactive monitoring meant to identify patterns of malicious behavior and hate speech earlier so that Facebook can react more quickly.

Not Much of a Role Model

A common theme proclaimed by anti-cyberbullying experts is how important it is for adults to act as role models and to monitor their own use of social media before expecting children to follow suit. One Texas school district superintendent, Lynn Redden is under review by the Onalaska Independent School District in Piney Woods, about 75 miles north of Houston, over an insensitive post he made on the local newspaper’s Facebook page. Redden says he regrets his comment about Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson and even tried to delete the comment, but not before others had taken screen shots of his words. This is yet another example of digital permanence and a good reminder for kids to think twice before posting anything.

Just Can’t Get Enough

Nearly three-quarters of teens say they know social media companies are manipulating them into spending more time online—but they’re using apps like Snapchat and Instagram more than ever. According to a new survey, 70 percent of survey respondents say they check those apps multiple times a day, compared with just 34 percent six years ago. Despite their awareness, they don’t find it particularly harmful to their wellbeing. Check out what else the teens divulged about their digital lives.

Parents Ban Together to Figure Out Fortnite

Parents and educators alike are noticing the addiction kids are having with the popular online game Fortnite. Parents are joining Facebook support groups to trade tips about how to limit the time their preteens spend playing, according to NBC News . Teachers, on the other hand, are trying to take advantage of their students enthusiasm for the game by using it to teach math and English lessons.