Ranking Teen Social Media Preference

Brokerage firm Piper Jaffray does a semiannual survey of teen preferences – from shopping to TV watching. We’ve written about it before, and the section on social media usage is always something that we focus on. As a reminder, here are the rankings of the surveyed teens’ “most important” social network from 12 months ago.

Piper teen survey social media

As you can see, Instagram was the clear #1 last year, Twitter preference was moving down, Facebook was stable in the teens and Snapchat was beginning to make inroads.

Fast-forwarding twelve months, the new results are in. This time around the survey polled 10,000 teens about a number of topics, and when it comes to social media the momentum of Snapchat is undeniable. Below is the percentage of teens’ who ranked each network their top social site or app for fall 2016:

snapchat-logo

  • Snapchat – 35%
  • Instagram – 24%
  • Twitter – 13%
  • Facebook – 13%
  • Pinterest – 1%
  • Google+ – 1%

The survey also asked the teens which network they use at least once a month.

  • Snapchat – 80%
  • Instagram – 79%
  • Twitter – 56%
  • Facebook – 52%
  • Pinterest – 25%
  • Google+ – 22%

It’s pretty clear that Snapchat and Instagram are dominating teen time and attention right now. Pictures and video are hot, both in the context of messaging and making permanent posts.

There are more interesting tidbits in the survey. When asked where/how teens consume video/TV, a big time evolution is happening. This shift may be clear to you if you’ve got a teen living in your house. As of this survey, YouTube passed conventional TV for the first time in terms of preferred viewing medium, and Netflix continues to be the leader.

  • Netflix – 37%
  • YouTube – 26%
  • Cable TV – 25%
  • Hulu – 3%
  • Other streaming – 6%

In terms of mobile devices, iPhone continues to dominate and looks to get stronger. 74% of the teens surveyed own an iPhone, up from 69% in April of this year, and 79% said that their next phone will probably be an iPhone. We’re not sure whether the bulk of the responses came in before or after high end Samsung phones started catching fire, but we suspect that it was before.

When it comes to teen social media preference, a couple of things are clear:

  • Pictures and video are where it’s at currently
  • Permanent vs. ephemeral is an important distinction and perhaps more important than public vs. private

With Instagram for example, your account can be public or private, but even if it is private it is public to your friends who can all see it – and make no mistake, what your friends think of your pictures is very important. Instagram is the home for your permanent images, and you may also use it for messaging. If you don’t want that image living on into next week or next year, you’ll probably use Snapchat.

 

 

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Snapchat and Instagram Dominate Social User Growth

The Harvard University Institute of Politics released a study recently titled Survey of Young Americans’ Attitudes Toward Politics and Public Service. The study polled 2,011 18 – 29 year olds in the fourth quarter of last year asking questions about a number of topics. The one that caught out eye was the section on social media use.

Not surprisingly, Facebook is the most used social media platform, being used by 81% of respondents, a 1% increase over the past two years.

The fastest growing social media platforms were Snapchat, which grew 8% over the past two years, and Instagram, which grew by 7%.

Harvard social media

Despite their rapid growth Instagram and Snapchat are nowhere near Facebook level of ubiquity. Instagram is used by only 46% of respondents, and Snapchat by only 36%.

Will either ever get to 80%+ penetration? It is possible, despite the fact that there are many options out there. Taking Stock with Teens, a survey by Piper Jaffray released this month polled over 6,500 teens about their social media use. The Piper survey found that 75% of U.S. teens use Snapchat and 74% use Instagram, while only 59% use Facebook. Snapchat and Instagram, in that order, were most highly ranked when asked what is your “most important social network?”

Piper social media survey
The times are changing.

 

 

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Piper social media survey

Snapchat – Causing Dilemmas For Parents Since 2011

We wrote a post last year titled “Is Snapchat Safe for 10, 11 and 12 Year Olds?

Official age limit aside, our conclusion in that post was, “if you are allowing a tween to download and use Snapchat, you are trusting that she is mature enough to keep herself safe from predators and cyberbullies, and to stick to age appropriate behavior.” While it wasn’t the topic of that post, the same goes for 13 and 14-year olds.

We stick by that conclusion for the most part, but we were struck by a comment left by a reader under that post, which you can read below (emphasis added):
snapchat-logo

“My parents still won’t let me get it. I am 13 and I never get in trouble. They don’t understand how much I don’t get included into [because] nobody uses text messages anymore. I just hope they understand how much I get picked on at school for being the only one in the whole grade without it. And to be honest everyone just uses it to text and connect with people it would be weird to just randomly text.”

We’ll be the first to say that “everybody else is doing it” is never enough reason for parents to say yes to something. However, we acknowledge that the pressure is on this girl’s parents to do just that. If as this girl asserts, she is the only one in her group of friends who is not using Snapchat, her parents have put her in an unfortunate situation.

From what we’ve seen, there are groups of 8th graders where every kid has a smartphone and is using Snapchat. We have no doubt that some of them are using it inappropriately, and there is no foolproof way for parents to guard against an impromptu gaffe.

If this girl is as responsible as she says she is (we admit there’s no way of knowing that), we’d encourage the parents to let her use Snapchat.

That isn’t the end of our advice. Saying, “Yes” is just the beginning of parenting with respect to Snapchat, or any other social network or app.

Lay out firm guidelines: Be very specific as to what kind of behavior is appropriate. Sexting is never okay. Neither is cyberbullying. Talk about how she should react when she sees a friend being cyberbullied. Talk about which types of friend requests she should accept. Tell her to treat every post as if it’s public and permanent.

Agree what will happen if she violates the rules: If she runs afoul of your guidelines, will she lose her Snapchat privileges? Her phone? Spell it out beforehand, but try not to put her in a position where she will be reluctant to come to you with problems.

Monitor activity: You won’t be able to monitor all of her Snapchat activity. You should be able to get a good idea of how she’s using the app if you talk to her about it often, and you should.

Do some research: There is plenty of content on the web about how teens are actually using Snapchat. By learning a little about Snapchat, you can greatly increase the meaning in the conversations you have with your teen.

Smartphones are definitely here to stay, and Snapchat looks like it is as well. Saying yes to Snapchat can increase your parenting workload an your stress level, but at some point it is the right thing to do.

 

 

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Snapchat Launches Desktop Interface

Snapchat used the Academy Awards ceremony last night to roll out a feature that we’re guessing not many people were clamoring for – Snapchat for desktop.

Snapchat-desktop

The reason that we say not many people were clamoring for it is that Snapchat is a platform that fits perfectly with users who are always – almost literally – their phone. It was launched not mobile-first, but mobile-only, so users knew of no other way to experience it.

snapchat-logoAccording to tech news site TechCrunch:

“The web player puts Snapchat in more direct competition with cross-platform products like Twitter Moments which already have established desktop presences. It also opens up the possibility of web embeds for Snapchat content in the future where users will be able to engage with curated event experiences on third-party sites.”

One caveat for users – as Snapchat make moves (we think this is the first of many) to make its content simultaneously available on the web as well as mobile, the chances go up that your teen’s snaps end up more widely distributed on the web than would have been the case in a mobile only use-case.

If your teen is using Snapchat for sexting, or sharing party pictures and videos, or anything else that she would rather not have in the hands of strangers, the risk with rogue Snapchat pics leaking out goes up a little as Snapchat’s evolution continues.

And, once snaps make it onto the web, it becomes much easier to share those images and video on other social media platforms.

The conversation around Snapchat will get a little louder this week thanks to these changes. Perhaps you can use this news as an opportunity to discuss appropriate Snapchat use with your teen.

 

 

 

 

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Snapchat Updates Privacy Policy

New today: Snapchat has updated its Privacy Policy and Terms of Service for the first time since November 2014. A lot has changed in a year in the social app landscape and with Snapchat itself, but other than changes that deal with in-app purchases and some of the other new features that Snapchat offers, not much has changed here.

In reading the documents, though, we came across two things that could be of particular interest to parents. Here is the first:
Snapchat-logo

“No one under 13 is allowed to create an account or use the Services. We or our partners may offer additional Services with additional terms that may require you to be even older to use them. By using the Services, you state that…you can form a binding contract with Snapchat—meaning that if you’re between 13 and 17, your parent or legal guardian has reviewed and agreed to these Terms”

Have parents read the Terms and Privacy Policy? Probably not. This is significant because we believe that most parents are not on Snapchat, and therefore don’t have practical knowledge of how it works. It is also true that many or most of the 13 – 17 year old crowd is using Snapchat. Exact current numbers are impossible to come to but we can tell you:

Has your teen agreed to anything sinister on your behalf when it comes to Snapchat? Not really, and as a matter of fact so far they’ve avoided the type of privacy evolution that gives users less control over their data over time, a la Facebook.

There is no smoking gun with respect to Snapchat privacy other than possibly the second thing we found interesting:

Snapchat’s Privacy Policy does remind users that a primary feature of the app is far from a given – that is, that pictures disappear after having been viewed. Indeed, there are many situations in which your data and/or pictures are not actually deleted, at least not immediately and perhaps not ever.

  • “users who see your messages or any other content you provide can always save them, either by taking a screenshot or by using some other image-capture technology”
  • “Some of our services, such as My Story, Replay, and Live, allow users to interact with the messages and content you provide through the services for a longer period of time”
  • “We can’t guarantee that messages and corresponding metadata will be deleted within a specific timeframe”
  • “we may also retain certain information in backup for a limited period of time or as required by law”
  • “We also sometimes receive requests from law enforcement requiring us by law to suspend our ordinary server-deletion practices”
  • “other companies use cookies, web beacons, and other tracking technologies on the services. These companies may collect information about how you use the services and other websites and online services over time and across different services”

Although some teens are up to no good on Snapchat, the app itself is not inherently bad. Sexting, cyberbullying and other risky or inappropriate activities take place on other apps and social media as well – simply downloading Snapchat is not a gateway to these activities. We do encourage parents to understand what the rules and terms are, so they can be forearmed in guiding appropriate teen behavior.

Edit as of 10/30/2015 – The following has been brought to our attention – some people think that Snapchat now has broader rights to use your photos. We’re not so sure. We will be updating this post soon. From Snapchat’s Terms of Service:

“But you grant Snapchat a worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable license to host, store, use, display, reproduce, modify, adapt, edit, publish, create derivative works from, publicly perform, broadcast, distribute, syndicate, promote, exhibit, and publicly display that content in any form and in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed). We will use this license for the limited purpose of operating, developing, providing, promoting, and improving the Services; researching and developing new ones; and making content submitted through the Services available to our business partners for syndication, broadcast, distribution, or publication outside the Services.”

That is bad.

 

 

 

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How Different Teens at Different Ages View Social Media

Part of the reason that it’s so difficult for parents to stay on top of what their teens are doing online is that there are no quick rules that tell you which social networks and apps teens are using, or how they use them. This is borne out by three recent articles penned by teens about their social media habits: a 19-year old college student, a 15-year old (presumably in high school) from Australia and a 13-year old American middle school student

Let’s take a look at what they had to say about the following platforms.

Facebook

Facebook Logo Square19-year old – “It’s dead to us. Facebook is something we all got in middle school because it was cool but now is seen as an awkward family dinner party we can’t really leave.”

15-year old – “Unless it’s something to do with family or making me look like a good Samaritan then no way I’m posting [ ] on there.”

13-year old – Not mentioned

Instagram

instagram-sq-logo19-year old – “Instagram is by far the most used social media outlet for my age group…Meaning, although the most people are on Facebook, we actually post stuff on Instagram.”

15-year old – “I used to post every photo on here but now it’s different. I want to but I have to first take a couple of photos, pick the best quality one, put it through a white border app, maybe a filter…and if it will look clean on my profile, then okay.

13-year old – “Instagram is HUGE in middle school. This may sound funny but for some people, who you follow and how many followers you have dictate school relationships. Not liking a picture your friends put up is the highest of insults. At the end of the day Instagram is like your passport in middle school.”

Snapchat

snapchat-logo19-year old – “Snapchat is quickly becoming the most used social media network…where we can really be ourselves while being attached to our social identity. Without the constant social pressure of a follower count or Facebook friends, I am not constantly having these random people shoved in front of me.”

15-year old – “[I use Snapchat when] I want to just open my camera, snap a couple of photos and share them privately to people I want right away. Snapchat is capturing and will dominate the millennials of this generation. Raw, unedited photos and videos make it so intriguing. Snapchat is built for digital natives; not for the mobile first but the mobile only generation.”

13-year old – Not mentioned

These are the observations of three teens, nor necessarily generalizations about all of their peer group. If asked about some of the less widely used platforms like Tumblr or Ask.fm, we would expect and even more varied set of opinions.

Age drives some of the differences in preference above, but not all in our opinion. Which platform your friends are using, whether you’re drawn to photos or text and whether you’re primarily a producer or consumer of online information all play a part.

If you’re a parent trying to understand what your teen is up to online, there are no easy answers. The teen social media landscape changes so quickly that it is impossible to stay ahead of the game, but here are some tips for getting in the game:

  • Talk to your teen about what kinds of things she is doing online
  • Ask her often about which social networks she is using, and who she is connecting with
  • Try one or two of the networks that you are not currently using to see what types of things people are posting
  • Pay attention to media reports detailing which networks are most problematic (i.e. Yik Yak, Ask.fm) and what types of problems occur frequently (cyberbullying, sexting)
  • Check out the ThirdParent service to see your teen’s Social Score, a clear picture of your teen’s public online identity and activity

 

 

 

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South Brunswick NJ Fights and Internet Fame

In an article last week that leaves out a lot of details, nj.com tells the story of the principal at New Jersey’s South Brunswick High School reaching out to parents and asking them to help calm the outbreak of fights that occurred at the school last week, which resulted in the arrest of at least three students.

“Fighting is not tolerated at SBHS and we will continue to educate students in effective decision-making so their choices impact their futures positively. [Videotaping] has to stop; [it] is not permitted and is against school rules. … We have observed enough students doing this that I ask you to have a conversation with your children about these behaviors.”

The story details the fact that six fights broke out over three days but we have heard that it was more than six fights, and that they were prompted by an argument that started on Twitter.

sbhs-fights

sbhs-fights-2

sbhs-fights-3

As the tweets above indicate, the fights took center stage with the students, some of whom videotaped them and posted them to social media, in particular Snapchat (the “geofilter” mentioned above is a Snapchat reference). This is speculation on our part but we believe that while a couple of the fights may have been spurred by the Twitter spat, it is entirely likely that many occurred as a result of the fact that the filming of the fights were blowing up on social media, making the participants internet-famous, at least for a while.

In our opinion, an individual fight, while not being a good thing, is not the problem. Nor is social media in itself a problem. The problem is that teens are doing outrageous, dangerous thing in order to be more popular online.

From dares like the make-yourself-disappear 72 Hour Challenge and kids setting themselves on fire for YouTube to self esteem crushing popularity contests like “Rate Me” or “Hot or Not” contests, teens are risking their psyche and their safety to earn fantasy points online.

This isn’t new. Teens have been accepting dares for as long as anyone can remember. The difference is that the internet provides a megaphone such that kids believe that anyone can be the next Alex From Target. Of course parents should be talking to kids about making good decisions. When bad decisions are made in the pursuit of internet fame, the results can be devastating and the proof can be on display permanently.

 

 

 

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Snapchat and Selfie Anxiety

Snapchat, mainly due to its being the go-to app for sexting, gets a bad rap but perhaps it serves an important role in the online life of some teens. If all of your friends are posting selfies to Instagram or Facebook and you don’t want to, what are your options?

“It is depressing that we’ve turned self-portraiture, the most intense, worrying and neurotic of arts, into a big collective joke.”

That from an article last week at The Guardian by Jonathan Jones called “RIP the selfie: when Prince Harry calls time on a craze, you know it’s well and truly dead”.

snapchat-logoI don’t agree with a whole lot in that article. That Price Harry called out a young girl for wanting a selfie is not earth shattering news. Nor is the fact that some people don’t like selfies.

I wouldn’t have seen the article at all but for the fact that a journalist I follow on Twitter used Snapchat as an example  in a rebuttal of sorts to the article and in doing so used the term “selfie anxiety”. The idea of selfie anxiety immediately struck a chord with me.

Selfies themselves aren’t good or bad and they probably won’t be as popular down the road as they are today. Their popularity will fade – like tie dyed shirts and hacky sack. Here’s the thing, though – some kids do suffer from some level of selfie anxiety for a number of reasons. Perhaps they aren’t happy with their look, their wardrobe, their lack of trips to exotic locales or fear the lack of likes that they might get. Not being involved in the selfie movement can make them feel left out.

Enter Snapchat, which gives teens an ephemeral alternative to a permanent online post – a more fleeting, less vote-needing alternative. Instead of posting a pic of yourself publicly for everyone to see (and mock, or ignore), you can take a selfie and send it to a controlled group of friends. As a bonus, if the pic is not well received, it’s no big deal. Unless the recipient takes a screen shot, the photo will disappear and become a distant memory before you know it.

Posting too many selfies is not great, but there are worse things. Needing constant affirmation from people liking your pics is not healthy. But sharing the odd picture, even using Snapchat, could be a great alternative.

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

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Can Police Obtain Disappearing Snapchat Pictures?

For at least some of its 100 million users, Snapchat is the go-to app for sending pictures that should never see the light of day. Want to send a nude selfie? Use Snapchat. Working on a drug deal? Use Snapchat. The pictures disappear so the evidence is gone. At least that’s how it’s supposed to work.

snapchat-logoThis week Snapchat unveiled its first Transparency Report – a rundown of all official government requests for user data and Snapchat’s response history – and the info might give some users pause.

For the period November 1, 2014 through February 28, 2015, Snapchat received 403 requests from government entities regarding user accounts, breaking down as follows:

  • 375 from the U.S.
  • 28 from foreign governments

Snapchat supplied some or all of the data requested in 92% of the U.S. cases and 21% of the foreign government cases.

If the pics disappear, you might be wondering what exactly the governments might be hoping to retrieve. It’s instructive to look at the most recent version of Snapchat Guide for Law Enforcement to see what is really happening.

  • Snapchat keeps (and can turn over) pics for 30 days in the event that they haven’t been viewed by all recipients
  • Snapchat retains records of meta data for all messages sent and received – to/from, date and time – but not the message content, and will turn over this data in response to a search warrant
  • Snapchat has the personal info that you supplied on file – user name, email address, phone number and the date the account was created

For furtive Snapchat users, the principal risk remains the chance that a recipient takes a screenshot of your picture, or otherwise manages to capture it before it is destroyed, then forwards that pic or posts it somewhere online. It is true, however, that Snapchat does have records that it will turn over to law enforcement – a fact that makes it an imperfect solution for covering your tracks if you are up to no good.

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

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Snapchat’s New Sexting Message is Really for Parents

If you’re the parent of teens, you may have seen a headline in the past week such as, “Snapchat tells teens: Keep your clothes on.” You may even have read the article.

snapchatThese articles were prompted by an update to Snapchat’s Safety Center, which includes the following admonishment for teens:

“Keep it legal. Don’t use Snapchat for any illegal shenanigans and if you’re under 18 or are Snapping with someone who might be: keep your clothes on!”

We can’t argue with the message, nor do we want to; the problem is that it won’t do any good unless parents are involved.

Think of it this way: If Snapchat told your teen to take his clothes off, would he? Nope. If Snapchat told your teen to hold her breath until she turned blue, would she. Again, no.

Like much of corporate communication, this was written not to inform the reader, but rather to protect the writer. Snapchat can hold themselves out to the community at large as having done something material to curb the transmission of underage nudity. Mission not accomplished, in our opinion.

There is one thing positive that this may end up accomplishing. Snapchat has sent a clear message to parents that they know teen users are sending nudes to other users, and the downside is significant enough that Snapchat is concerned about repercussions.

Inappropriate teen behavior of almost any type is first and foremost a parenting issue, and parents need to step up their game.

  • Is your teen using Snapchat? You should know the answer to this.
  • Have you talked to your teen (or tween!) about the risks of sexting? If you haven’t yet, you should.
  • At what age? Well, if your child has a smart phone, the risks of sexting should be something you have covered by now.

Snapchat, while being problematic because it is one of the “in” messaging platforms and is commonly used for sexting, is not the problem. If your teen is inclined to send risqué pics, there are plenty of other options to make that happen. That being said, Snapchat is often the medium of choice because people believe the pictures self-destruct, even though they don’t necessarily do so.

Parents can use the Snapchat safety update as a reason for having the sexting discussion with the kids. If you’ve had it already, you can have it again. In our experience, parents think nothing about warning about the risks of drugs, or drinking and driving, over and over again. It’s time that sexting got the same level of attention.

 

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

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