As a parent, it can be very difficult to keep up with what your teenager is doing and thinking. In the constantly evolving world of technology, trends change more quickly than you can probably imagine. Even if you would consider yourself a fairly “tech-savvy” parent, the odds are good that your kids are (at least) one step ahead of you.
Still, in an attempt to connect with you kids and make sure that they aren’t doing anything dangerous with the iPhone that you have entrusted to them, it’s in your best interest to try your best to keep up with the apps that are popular among teens today. Here are five iOS apps that your teen is probably using on a daily basis and a little explanation about what they do.
1. Instagram – While you may think you finally caught up with the world of social networking by getting a Facebook page, you should realize that the popularity of Facebook has been steadily waning among young people for the last few years. The social network that has gained a radical following in its wake is Instagram. A way to share pictures with your friends (or complete strangers), Instagram has caught on because of how easy it is to make connections with other people. All you have to do is take a picture, crop it into a square, and then apply a filter (if you so choose) to make it look extra artistic. Once you post it to your profile, then all of your friends can “like” and comment on your photograph.
2. Vine – When Vine was first released, it was immediately dubbed “Instagram for videos.” Rather than sharing pictures with your friends, you can take six-second movies and send them out to all of your followers. Similar to Instagram, you can also add effects and filters if you so choose. Vine is fading in popularity ever since Instagram added video capability to its app, but there’s a good chance that your teen is still using it at least occasionally.
3. Snapchat – Of all the apps that teenagers use, the one that has gotten the most negative press seems to be Snapchat. The premise behind the app is simple—though a little bizarre if you aren’t used to it. Rather than posting a photo for the world to see (like you do with Instagram), Snapchat users send their pictures to one person, much like a text message. The catch with Snapchat, however, is that once the receiver opens the photo, it will “self-destruct” after a few seconds, and no one can ever recover it.
The technology has often been abused by teens who think it’s a safer conduit for “sexting.” The downfall of Snapchat is that the person receiving the message can quickly take a screen capture of the picture before it gets deleted, which can come back to haunt the original sender if their picture wasn’t G-rated. If your teen is using Snapchat, you will want to make sure you have a talk with them about what is and isn’t safe to send.
4. Kik – Similar to Snapchat, but less fleeting, Kik allows teens to send picture and video messages that don’t self-destruct. Many people also like using it to send memes to one another (think of the pictures of the Grumpy Cat and the messages people use to caption them if you haven’t heard of a meme). Kik doesn’t really offer many features beyond typical text messaging, but teens seem to love using it.
5. Pinterest – Though it’s mostly just popular among girls, Pinterest has a large following in the teenage crowd. Users create “boards”—which you can think of as the digital equivalent of a bulletin board—onto which they “pin” different content that is related to their interests. Teens can share their boards with their friends, and Pinterest is a quick and easy way to learn about the latest trends in fashion and interior design.
While these apps are among the most popular right now, there’s no telling what new trends will develop next. If you are worried about what your teen is doing on her phone, the best thing to do is make a habit of asking which apps she is using and then asking her to explain what each of them do. You may get a few eye-rolls at first, but in the end, you can rest easier knowing that your teen is using her iPhone safely.
Thanks to Craig Timmins who is the head editor of the cell phone and tablet trade-in website Sell Cell who help customers sell their gadgets for the highest prices possible.