The broad reach of teen social networking
According to Pew Internet & American Life Project's "Report on Teens, Social Media, and Privacy," released in May 2013, fully 95% of kids ages 12-17 use the Internet. Eighty-one percent of online teens use some form of social media. Sixty-seven percent of teen social media users visit social sites daily, and 42% visit several times a day.
Facebook is still the #1 social network for teens, but it's fading
While 94% of teen social media users say they have a Facebook profile, and 81% say that Facebook is social site they use most often, it appears that Facebook's teen appeal is fading. According to the Pew report, "Many teens expressed a waning enthusiasm for Facebook." Teens complain of too many adults on the site, advertising, and too much drama interacting with friends.
Teen Twitter use is increasing significantly
Teens largely ignored Twitter when it first appeared and those who used it found it chiefly as a way to stay current with celebrities. In 2009, only 8% of teens used Twitter. Today, the number of teens using Twitter has increased to 24%.
Why teens are migrating to Twitter
The reasoning starts with fewer adults on Twitter than Facebook. While 67% of online adults have Facebook profiles, only 16% are on Twitter. Further, Twitter's platform and character limit (140 characters) allows kids to express their thoughts, feelings, and what they are doing without the drama that Facebook's platform of longer posts, endless comments, and "likes" allows.
Advice for parents who allow kids to use Facebook and Twitter
1. Set the expectation that you will friend (Facebook) or Follow (Twitter) your teenager on their social media account. This requires you to establish your own Facebook and Twitter accounts.
2. Facebook: Use profile privacy settings to limit who can access your teen's content.
3. Twitter: Set Tweet privacy setting to "Protect my Tweets." This requires your teen to approve everyone who follows them, and then only displays tweets to those who have been approved. Without taking this step, anyone can follow your teen, and all tweets are available to the public. Make sure your teen approves you as a follower.