The sheer number of social media sites and services available today can be staggering to the uninitiated. At the time of this writing, there are at least six influential sites: Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Finsta, Twitter, and Afterschool. Let’s take a closer look:
Nearly 80 percent of youth between the ages of thirteen and twenty-four use this platform. Teens who want to become involved in sexting find it especially attractive because content automatically disappears shortly after being posted. Unfortunately, these images never really go away. Once sent out into cyberspace, they remain there indefinitely. They can also be saved on the receiving end by means of a simple screenshot. No wonder Snapchat is also popular among sexual predators.
Facebook has a strong global presence, being accessed by nearly two billion people every month. It provides some safeguards to protect kids from strangers, but it isn’t invulnerable. Users can block anybody—including parents—from accessing their pages. Yet the fact remains that Facebook is not truly private. In the final analysis, it’s a public platform subject to outside surveillance.
Like Facebook, this photo- and video-sharing service includes built-in mechanisms designed to filter out lewd or nude images. But also like Facebook, its safeguards aren’t necessarily fail-safe.
This is the “real” Instagram platform teenagers use. They use their normal Instagram account to represent how they want others to perceive them. They know their parents, sports coaches, and even college admission departments check Instagram accounts. Finsta is where their unfiltered messages are posted—the mean, honest, raunchy stuff.
Twitter is designed to enable users to broadcast photos and short, pithy messages to a select list of followers. In effect, it’s a public forum granting users access to a potentially unlimited audience. Contact with strangers is not only possible but practically a given. What’s more, this platform includes no restrictions against foul language, adult topics, or nude images.
Afterschool is a phone app that is extremely easy to hide, and it’s completely anonymous. In theory, this is where you get help with homework because you can talk with other students and can even access teachers if there’s an actual question. Since it’s totally anonymous, it’s rife with mean, cutting, nasty, and degrading comments.