How teens, parents struggle to share social media

Even straight-laced LinkedIn is courting teenagers. Earlier this month the social media site for professionals lowered its minimum age to 14 from 18 and announced special new pages for universities, hoping to edge into the college-selection process.

If teenagers really don’t want something to be seen, they’ll retreat to more private messaging tools such as Kik, WhatsApp or Snapchat, which can be used to send private messages to groups of friends. SnapChat is a mobile app which lets users share photos or videos that disappear after a few seconds. For that reason, it’s gained a reputation for promoting the exchange of risqué images.

“On Snapchat … anything goes!” said Carly, the Bay Area teen. “Snapchat gets a little crazier because it’s supposed to be ‘erased’ after 10 seconds or less. Not sure if that’s actually true, but there’s definitely a different sense of security with Snapchat than Facebook or Instagram.”

Making peace with parents

Some kids and parents say they have worked out ways to share social networks harmoniously.

According to the recent Pew study, only 5% of teens reported setting up filters for their parents, and the majority (70%) are friends with their parents on Facebook.

Julie LaRue and her 16-year-old daughter are both mainly on Facebook, but the two have agreed on some boundaries.

“Her ground rule for me is to not comment on her friends’ comments unless they are directed to me, and not to tag her in photos without her consent,” said LaRue, who lives in Baldwinsville, New York.

LaRue also stays off of her daughter’s other social networks, including Tumblr, Twitter and DeviantArt. In exchange, her daughter is heeding her warnings against sharing personal information online and has promised not to post any photos she wouldn’t be comfortable showing her parents.

Along the same lines, Carly’s mom will tag her daughter in photos and like her posts, but she doesn’t comment much because she knows it’s embarrassing to her daughter.

Carly, for her part, tries to keep it clean.

“I really try to not have any pictures of me from any parties or any captions/comments with swear words … but it’s hard to be 100% clean when your entire life is online,” she said.

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