The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Local Education

May 2, 2014

Experts: Monitor kids' social media activities

Facebook still No. 1, but Twitter's gaining ground among teens

PENDLETON — Kelly Hardshaw's oldest child is only 12, but it's never too early to get ahead of the social media curve.

"I'm aware of a lot of them," she said, referring to social media sites. "I came to make sure I'm not missing some."

Hardshaw was one of about 50 parents who recently attended a "Cyber Safety" presentation by the Social Health Association of Indiana at Pendleton Heights High School.

Janet Kamiri, adolescent health coordinator for the organization, said there are numerous benefits to social media, but parents need to monitor their children's activities and stay informed about the most popular and potentially questionable sites.

"We often talk about social media and technology taking away from teen social skills, but they're actually gaining a lot of new skills that they're going to need as technology progresses," Kamiri said. "They're much more adaptable to new technology, which is going to be a huge benefit to them in the future."

Facebook remains the the most popular social networking site by far, "but if you look at the statistics, we know that teens are abandoning Facebook because all the adults in their lives are on Facebook," she said.

Many teens are turning instead to Twitter and Instagram, an online photo and video-sharing service, to share information with their friends and followers, according to Kamiri.

Other "apps" that are gaining popularity include anonymous messaging and chat networks and variations of Instagram such as SnapChat, a photo-messaging application that allows a sender to upload an image and set how long it will be available to a recipient.

The distressing news is that Instagram has become a source of cyberbullying, while SnapChat makes sexting easier and allows teens to post provocative images of themselves thinking the photos will disappear from cyberspace, Kamiri told parents.

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