I am delighted to announce the release of our new parents’ guides to two of the most popular social apps among teens, Instagram and Snapchat. You can read or download and print the free guides at ConnectSafely.org. Just 6 pages – including the “Top 5 Questions” parents have about each app right up front – the guides are meant to demystify these mobile apps so parents and kids can have an informed conversation and kids can optimize their use of the apps.
My ConnectSafely.org co-director Larry Magid and I picked these two first (more to come) because – except for the myriad of texting apps that kids use as a free replacement for or tablet version of cellphone carriers’ texting services – these are the top 2 original-to-mobile apps among kids and teens. Instagram is No. 3 after Facebook and Twitter on Pew Internet’s just-released chart of teens’ social media top social-media picks for 2011-’12 (see my post about that study here). The study included surveys (quantitative research) Pew conducted last summer, so the very young Snapchat was still below the radar; but it figured very prominently in the qualitative part of the study (focus groups) conducted by Harvard’s Berkman Center just this past February. Facebook and Twitter certainly have mobile apps, but those services started on the Web. Instagram and Snapchat are native to the mobile platform.
“Digital natives” is already pretty passé, but it will really fade away when mobile moves to center stage here as much as in other parts of the world and kids of all socio-economic brackets are born into a largely mobile media environment. The trend certainly has already begun. Pew recently reported that growing numbers of teens are “cell-mostly” Internet users. If “cell” includes tablets too, we may soon have a “cell-only” generation.
Brief, straightforward information
So ConnectSafely be producing more of these guides, not only because we’ve all turned a corner with tech parenting but also because everybody deserves straightforward information on what to do if things come up in the apps and services of what I call pro-social media companies (see this) – the services that actually offer safety and privacy features in these early days of mobile socializing. Because human beings often fear what they don’t understand; because parents have natural concerns about kids and technology in fast-forward times, and because the news reports only the worst cases – the exception to the rule – we hope these guides put a little more weight on the information and communication side of the balance. Please check them out and let us know what you think!