According to the West Virginia Education Association, the average teen/tween spends six to nine hours on their phones per day. What could they be doing for that amount of time per day? Spending their time on various social media platforms, that’s what! Social media is the most widely used form of communication by kids these days. Snapchat, Instagram, VSCO, and TikTok are the top 4 social media platforms in the US.
Snapchat is the most commonly used social media platform by kids in the United States. It is a quick messaging app that allows you to text or send messages with your friends. You can type, draw, and add a number of decorations to the pictures to make them funny or more appealing. If you see your teen making funny faces to their phones on the way to school in the morning, chances are they are sending a snap to a group of friends and they are adding ears, hearts or other images to their picture. In addition to sending photos and messaging each other, there are Snapchat stories where people post about whatever they are doing and it gets instantly shared with their friends - the people they have added on Snapchat. Another feature of the app is the ability to save pictures and videos taken on the app, which are then turned into “memories”.
The second most notable social media platform is Instagram. Instagram is used by kids, adults, and businesses to, essentially, advertise themselves to everyone else. You follow people that interest you and people follow you back. You can “like” and comment on people’s posts which is tracked on the app. Unlike Snapchat, Instagram “influencers” are able to make money off their posts if they bring enough activity to the app due to their content. It is a public forum and great care is taken on what is posted on Instagram – right picture with the right lighting, right background, etc.
VSCO started as a photo editing application but it soon evolved to a top social media platform. It is basically a more private Instagram: the account owner is the only one that can see who is following him/her (unlike Instagram where everyone can see how may followers you have and who is following a specific person), who they’re following, and there are no likes or comments on posts. This app is mainly used by girls to post whatever they want without the added pressure of likes or comments. It is a judgement-free place to post pictures and build a feed for yourself.
TikTok is less of a social media platform and more of a program to make funny videos with and for your friends. This app allows people to record videos of themselves dancing or acting with music in the background. Before TikTok, there was Musical.ly, which was the same platform except it was originally used for more serious music endeavors. Influencers grew on this platform and have been able to create jobs out of making videos and posting them. TikTok bought Musical.ly last year and has changed the tone of the app to a more casual, more widely adopted music application.