Tweeting with Your Teen
Chances are your teen has a page on Facebook, the social-networking website with a massive following among users ages 9 to 99. And, chances are, if you've heard of Facebook, you've probably also heard of Twitter, another player in the ever-expanding fray of social networking platforms, micro-blogs and the like. Perhaps you have a Twitter account. But does your child have one too? And as a parent, should you be concerned about Twitter in the hands of your child?
The short answer: There’s no reason to ban your child from Twitter, but it's important that both of you understand its ins and outs, its pros and cons and how to use it properly.
How is Twitter Different from Facebook?
Twitter is similar to Facebook in that users can broadcast their thoughts from the most inane to the most earth shattering for the world to see. But there are a few key differences from Facebook:
On Twitter, users are limited to just 140 characters per post, where each post is usually referred to as a “tweet.”
On Facebook, users have to mutually agree to be “friends” before they can see each other’s whole profiles. On Twitter, each profile is public to everyone else unless the user decides to make it private. Twitter users have “followers,” or people who can see each tweet they post on a homepage. Unless a user sets up privacy settings, no one needs permission to follow anyone else. However, users can block people from seeing their tweets. If Twitter users follow each other, they can send each other private “Direct messages.” But essentially, Twitter profiles are completely public.
Twitter's content, and by default its users, can be more "viral" than Facebook's (aka can more easily be shared throughout the web and other technology platforms) and this is mostly due to the nature of Twitter's content — it's short, quick, super sharable (through "retweets") and essentially "portable."
While 14 percent of America’s 30 million Twitter users are 17 or younger, the site is more popular among adults and has a more professional feel than Facebook. Still, Twitter is potentially a means through which personal information can fall into the hands of people who shouldn’t have it. The key – especially for kids and teens – is to be smart and to be careful. If your child is interested in exploring the world of "tweets" and "retweets" it might be best for you and your child to set up the account together. The two of you can then decide together who the child will follow and who can follow back.
Did you know that the Tompkins County Youth Services Department has a Twitter Account? Follow us @TompkinsCoYouth to get the latest information on youth issues and events.
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