We are talking social media and teens in 2021. Over the last decade, as our kids have grown and technology has evolved – I have shared things learned from being a parent to growing kids.
Teens and Social Media in 2021
Somehow my oldest kids are now teens. And as we all know, in 2021 – social media is everything to teens.
Here are 5 things I have learned and parents should know about social media in 2020.
5 Things Parents Should Know About Social Media and Teens in 2021
Let’s talk about social media and teens in 2020. We are discussing how parents can stay in the know, social media and teens mental health, what parents should be worried about, the effects of social media on teens and how to use social media as a way to connect with your kids.
First up, we are getting this party started with what the popular social media apps teens are using.
#1 Popular 2021 Social Media Apps for Teens
What social media apps are popular with teens in 2020? Here are the top social apps on our teenagers’ phones.
TikTok – a social media app that allows viewing and creating short videos.
Instagram – a photo and video sharing app, allows stories and direct messaging.
YouTube – rather than watching YouTube videos in a browser, YT encourages viewers to watch via the YouTube app.
SnapChat – social app known for disappearing photos, videos and messages.
Twitter – short form messaging – popular for mass communications – often used by schools.
Teens Are Not on Facebook
Notice anything missing from the social media and teens app list? Yes, correct – Facebook is not on the list. Facebook is where the parents hang out, according to my teens. While I wouldn’t totally dismiss Facebook and teens – know that there are many more social apps in the sea that teenagers are using.
Parent Take-Away on Social Media Apps
Know what social media apps are on your kids phones, who they are friending, how they are using social and what content they are consuming.
#3 Social Media Worries
We treat social media as a privilege. Our oldest, we let on Instagram way too early and revoked access. Snapchat wasn’t allowed until the they were 14-years-old. These are our rules – and totally okay if they look different than yours! You need to find social media rules and boundaries that work best for your teens and family.
One of the main reasons that we didn’t introduce social media to our teenagers until they were teens is out of worry. Social media worries are real y’all.
Social Media is Like a Mall
Think about social media as a mall. Typically, you don’t drop off a 10-year-old alone at the mall, where as a 13 or 14-year-old is a lot better equipped and more mature to handle obstacles that could possibly come their way. Same goes with social media and teens.
Something else about social media being like the mall. What did we do at the mall? We met friends, met their friends, hung out and flirted. Guess what are kids are doing on social media?
Social Media Rats
Remember how back in the day, those of us who hung out at the mall all the time were called mall rats? Let’s coin a new term for teens who hang out on social media all the time. We shall call them SOCIAL MEDIA RATS.
Maybe this is why the malls are all empty! The mall rats had babies that became social media rats. It is all making sense now.
How Teens Hang Out and Meet Now is Online
Hanging out with friends for my gamer son, looks a lot different than a bunch of teens over at a house playing games. Now games are all online and they communicate via social media. I have asked many times, why don’t you hang out with your friends in real life. The response I get... I do that at school, mom.
We were recently at a competition and my daughter met another girl there she knew from Insta. They have similar friends and do the same sport, so Instagram friends can be IRL friends.
A family friend’s daughter who is 14, met her boyfriend on Instagram. They live 15 minutes away from each other, and had mutual friends introduce them on the app.
Realities of Social Media Danger
Online bullying, exposure to pornographer, sexual predators and just lewdness are a few of the social media worries that immediately come to mind when thinking about my kids being on social apps.
The reality of social media and teens is that our kids is that our teens have been exposed to each of my worries – but at least they are more mature and know now how to better handle the situations when presented to them. Not that I want them to
Effects of Social Media on Teens
I would be remiss if I didn’t talk specifically about the effects of social media on teens. First hand, have had to deal with our kids being harassed on social media and to be completely honest – our kids inappropriately using social media.
Social Media Triggers
The biggest effects of social media on teens that we as parents need to be aware of are situations and incidents that can effect our teenagers mental health.
Social media has a plethora of triggers that effect teens.
Depression amongst teens is at an all-time high. Be keenly aware of your teen’s emotional state. Yes, this is a hard job when they are so emotional, but it is critical. A teen girl who receives a comment about how she looks can either make or break her day. Now imagine if that ugly comment sits on her photo and every time she logs in she has to see it. These are the triggers we don’t think about but we need to help out kids with.
Yes, you should totally be aware of what your kids are doing because a teen could meet some old guy on social media and be sold as a sex slave. But let’s look at the facts. The percentage of incidents like that happening versus teens dealing with online bullying, inappropriate videos and inappropriate photos being shared of them, ugly comments and message, gossip, lies, etc are more likely what our teens are facing daily on social media.
I don’t want you to rule out the old creepy sexual predator, but just remember
Here are several news articles about our biggest fears with social. These are not meant to be shared as a scare tactic, but as a cautionary warning to be aware of what your kids are doing online.
- US News – More Evidence Links Social Media Use to Poorer Mental Health in Teens
- Dallas Morning News – North Texas Parents, We Have to Confront Teen Suicide Because ‘Right Now it’s Winning’
- NY Times – The Crisis in Youth Suicide
- NBC Miami – Family Warns Against TikTok Skullbreaker Challenge
- Allied News – Teens Accused of Making Threats on Social Media
Parent Take Away – Social Media Worries
Carefully consider if your teenager or child is old enough for the social media app they are using or wanting to use. While YouTube may be a safer option (with parental controls) for younger kids, you most likely wouldn’t want someone who isn’t a teen on TikTok.
Be aware of your teens mental state. Help your kids in understanding the good voices in their life versus the bad voices that can come from online.
Know what your kids are doing on social media.
Again, each parent has to create the rules that work best for their family. These are just social media suggestions from this mom of 4.
#4 How to Monitor Social Media
While we have put less screen time rules on our teenagers, we do make sure that they know, while they can have a phone – mom and dad can have access to it and any of the content at any time.
Yes, that means when we are suspicious we go thru their phone. They know this and if they don’t want us to see what they are doing, well then they shouldn’t be doing this.
The understanding that we can see what they post, consume or what their friends are saying is quite interesting. We have seen many messages where inappropriateness (mostly dank memes) are being posted and our kids, or our kids’ friends saying – “dude, my mom checks my phone.”
There are apps, such as Bark that will allow you to see everything that they are doing.
Make sure to check for any additional accounts that your child may have created. One of our kids created a spam account and then another dedicated to something we weren’t too keen on.
Parent Take Away – Monitoring Social Media
Parents, know what your kids are doing on social apps. Friend them and follow. Check their phones for inappropriate content. Give grace and use anything you find not as a punishment as much as a lesson.
Create limits for their access to technology. Use Apple Family and disable access to social media apps after a certain time.
Know what they are doing online, who they are interacting with, what they are posting and consuming. Help guide them to using social media as a healthy tool for communication.
Consider requiring your kids to give you all social media logins for you to access their accounts. I can tell you when they know you are watching, typically their online behavior is much more appropriate, as well as their friends!
#5 Use Social Media to Connect With Your Teens
The teenage years are fun, y’all. No like minus all of the puberty, drama and conflict – parenting teens isn’t ALL terrible. Remember, you created these kids and your job is to make them good humans, ready to conquer the reality of the real world outside of your home.
Let’s Talk About Hormonal Secluded Teenagers
Not a fun discussion, but seriously. Let’s talk about hormonal secluded teenagers. We have had our share of hormonal teen issues. Seclusion is a typical teen thing. Teenagers not wanting to talk to their parents, another typical issue of parenting teens.
Using Social Media to Talk
All that said, one thing I totally didn’t see coming was the use of social media to connect with our teens.
Every day I can expect a Snapchat from my son. Apparently he is on a Snapchat streak. These snaps include silly photos of himself that he has edited, a meme and always a gn ily (good night, I love you) before he goes to bed.
Our daughter is all about the Insta! She is busy with school, winter guard, work and a social life. She is only 16, but time with her is few and far between.
When I miss her, I know I can see what she is up to on Instagram stories. I also know that anytime she sees a recipe she wants me to make, a restaurant she wants to visit or a silly goat video – it will be in my Insta DMs.
Parent Take Away – Use Social Media to Connect With Your Kids
Drop a silly meme to your kids. (We have plenty – check out our collection of funny memes!) DM them and ask how their day is. If you really want to annoy them, just tag them on a post.
In all seriousness though – don’t just think of social media as something your kids can get in trouble on.
The Pros and Cons of Social Media and Teens
As you can see, there are a number of pros and cons of social media and teens. This is a new form of communication and while we are all busy learning what our kids are doing, our teens are actively engaging and utilizing this medium in numerous ways.
Final Thoughts on Social Media and Teens in 2020
Social media in 2020 is woven into our teens’ DNA like the landline was back in the 90s, pre-internet. What would we do if our parents never let us use the phone? This is exactly what would happen with our kids not on social media.
At the end of the day, the decision as to who, what, why, where, when your kids use social media is up to you. Set CLEAR rules and boundaries. Define what is right, what is wrong and how to best use social media for good.
Social Media is Here to Stay
The Pros and cons of social media and teens are what they are. At the end of the day, social media is here to stay.
While I can’t say that TikTok will be around in 5 years (RIP, Vine app!) – I can say that social media will be!
News, business, schools, churches, organizations, etc use social media as a primary communication channel. I mean, hello – if there is a tornado warning, social media is typically how I learn about it!
Don’t fret, just be in the know. Stay on top of what the latest social media and teen trends are and embrace social media for the good (and help stop and prevent the bad!)