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A Parent’s Guide to Social Media: Our tech expert breaks down 5 popular apps

These are the social media apps your kids are likely using.

In this age of expansive and ever-evolving social media, it’s no wonder that many parents feel a bit lost when trying to keep up with what their kids are engaging with online. The concerns about their online activity are absolutely valid, even if they sometimes appear a tad overzealous.

Sarah Kimmel, from Family Tech, shares a comprehensive parent’s guide to help you understand the apps your children might be using.

Find more advice from Sarah on Instagram, @familytech, or at


The Pros and Cons of 5 Popular Social Media Apps

There’s no denying that the landscape of social media can be a daunting one. But, it’s crucial to remember that while there are potential pitfalls, social media can also have its benefits, as long as it’s managed appropriately.

To bridge the knowledge gap, Sarah discusses the five most popular social media platforms, highlights the parental controls available, and gives her age recommendations.

1. Instagram

Instagram has become a staple in many teenagers’ lives. However, Sarah reminds parents that beneath its seemingly benign surface lies a platform with disappearing messages and short-form videos, like Snapchat and TikTok. For parental control, you can apply some monitoring but not an extensive amount. Sarah recommends considering Instagram when your child is around 14 or 15. The key is to be aware that the content you encounter on your feed might be vastly different from what your kids see, thanks to the personalized algorithm.

2. Snapchat

Snapchat often raises parents’ eyebrows due to its disappearing messages. Its algorithm may not be to everyone’s liking, and the ‘Streaks’ feature can be oddly addictive. Sarah’s age recommendation for Snapchat is around 16. The reason for this is the false sense of privacy that comes with disappearing messages, leading children to sometimes overshare.

3. TikTok

TikTok, currently one of the most popular platforms, gets a thumbs-up from Sarah due to its robust built-in parental controls. These controls allow you to tailor your child’s experience significantly. Given these protections, Sarah recommends considering TikTok at the age of 13.

4. BeReal

BeReal, a newer social media platform, is gaining popularity among the younger generation. It doesn’t employ complex algorithms, making it less likely to suck users into extended browsing sessions. Sarah recommends BeReal for those aged 13 and older. One of the platform’s unique aspects is that you can only view others’ content once you’ve posted your own. This prevents ‘lurking’ behavior.

5. Discord

Discord, though useful for communication, comes with a set of concerns due to its relatively unfiltered environment. Sarah recommends a close watch on Discord usage, especially for children aged 14 or 15. It’s essential to monitor your child’s interactions on this platform to ensure their safety, as it can be a bit of a wild, wild, west.

Social media is here to stay, and the best approach is not avoidance but informed guidance. Parental control tools and discussions with your children about responsible usage can make a significant difference. While the social media landscape can seem overwhelming, understanding these platforms and their associated risks is the first step toward ensuring your child’s online safety.

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