Parents often find themselves struggling to keep up with millennial tech-savvy millennials and their use of apps and mobile devices. While apps are often seen mainly as social vehicles, they can also help teens stay organized, learn more effectively, and start planning for the future. Here’s a look at the ways high schoolers are staying connected:



Facebook can be used to post photos and personal updates, share news, “like” and share content by others, add friends, and follow different groups. A separate Facebook messenger app for smartphone users also allows private chatting. Facebook is also an effective tool that allows students to connect with others who may be interested in the same college, sport, or study group. Millennials often use Facebook for keeping up with dates for important events, networking with others, or finding jobs. Since Facebook has such a large user base, it’s also very effective for generating interest in fundraisers or other events. Facebook does pose some dangers, however, because most users include a real picture of themselves and other identifying information on their profile, but privacy settings can mitigate this issue. Maintaining a secure online social presence is key for applying to college.



Instagram is a social media platform geared primarily towards photo and video sharing. It makes it especially easy for users to upload content from their cell-phones and share it on other platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr. Instagram is similar to Facebook in that it allows users to post, share, and tag friends in photos, but it has less written content. Millennials often use Instagram to follow the pages of friends, groups, celebrities, or local businesses in order to stay in the loop on current events. Instagram also allows users to add unique hashtags to images, making it easy to find content relating to a specific event or theme, such as sporting events, graduation, or parties.




Twitter is another popular media platform that allows users to post tweets (short messages of 140 characters or less) and re-tweet or share the posts of other users. Twitter also makes use of the @ symbol to direct tweets to specific users and hashtags to make it easier for users to find relevant content. Unlike Facebook, default settings for Twitter allow content to be public, but can be changed to private. News agencies, government bodies, and school systems frequently use Twitter to provide real-time updates to followers. You or your teen can utilize these updates to keep up with school delays and cancellations, changes to sports schedules, application deadlines, or anything else to help your life run more smoothly.



Snapchat has exploded in popularity recently. The basic premise is that users can send pictures or short videos that disappear after about 10 seconds and also post content to their Stories for friends to view. Celebrities, special events, and even some colleges often create Snapchat accounts to keep their audience informed. Snapchat is a double-edged sword; the good news is that any risqué content will disappear quickly, provided it isn’t posted to the Story. However, this makes it very hard to monitor what teens are sending to others. Also, a snap can be captured via screenshot by other users and, while the sender will be notified, there is no way for the sender to erase the captured image. It is also worth noting that there is a growing industry related to the sharing of pornography and other adult content via Snapchat, often for a small fee, creating further difficulties for parents who want to monitor social media use.

WhatsApp & Kik


WhatsApp and Kik are different messenger apps that allow users to send messages, photos, video, and other content utilizing cellular data rather than text messages. These apps are fantastic tools for people who need to communicate with others long distance or just want to cut out the cost of texting plans. Teens can easily use them to communicate with parents or peers on a daily basis. The downfall with these apps is that it can be difficult for parents to monitor their teen’s social media use. When your teen sends texts, the associated phone numbers are often documented on your phone bill, but this is not true with messenger apps. Once the conversation is deleted, it is probably gone for good, at least without the use of sophisticated technology to recover it.
Social media can be a fascinating yet worrisome world for parents to help their teens navigate. Connecting with job or volunteer opportunities, keeping up with school news, and creating a professional network are just some of the wonderful aspects of social media. However, parents should be wary of apps that make it easy for teens to hide inappropriate behavior. Talking about privacy settings, hacking of private information, and the permanence of digital content are all ways parents can encourage teens to stay safe on social media.