Social Media 101: The apps your kids use

Ask pretty much any teen about their phone, and this is usually the response:

"I wouldn't say addicted, but I use it most of the day!"

"Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr ... "

"I know a lot of girls and guys use it."

That's just fraction of the comments we gathered from teens, at Pass-a-Grille Beach one weekday afternoon.

"Teens have conversations where they're not being watched by their parents" says Kelli Burns, communications professor at University of South Florida. She says apps used by young people these days, can be separated into two groups. Ones that message, like Snapchat, KIK and Whisper, and ones that hide, like Secret Folder Icon and Poof.

But do you know how these work?

Burns says Snapchat can be tricky.

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"It's popular, because you the messages disappear after the receiver has a chance to look at message," she said.

Just because the photo or video disappears from the app though, doesn't mean it's not captured somewhere. Users can still take a screenshot.

Messaging site, KIK has been downloaded about 120 million times. The app concerns Burns because of easy accessibility to minors.

"It's is a place where predators may go. All you need is a KIK ID, you don't even need a name, and start having connections with people," she said.

Even teens 10 News talked with agree KIK is like texting, but easier.

"You can meet someone from New York on these apps … and you can't do that from where you are [with just a phone number]".

Meantime, the app, Whisper, is said to get 3 billion page views per month, and growing fast.

Burns puts this app in the messaging category, with a twist.

"It's an app where you share information anonymously. It's like therapy," she said.

Many of the secrets share on the app are scandalous, and range from true feelings toward a teacher, to confessions of cheating on a boyfriend or girlfriend.

In the category of apps that hide, Secret Folder App is easily overlooked. The app hides pictures, text messages, videos and anything you want on your phone, and disguises itself as a series of apps. The apps then have to be keyed in order to open the hidden content.

These apps just scratch the surface. With 1.2 million apps available in the iTunes store, there's a lot to navigate. What's hot today, may be completely different from what's popular tomorrow.

Burns suggests searching "hot apps" periodically, and parents need to try can keep up with the new apps.


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