Cell phone apps open up all people, including teenagers, to a world of information, entertainment, and connection. Social networks, streaming websites, mobile games, and private messaging apps are just the tip of the iceberg. Most teens today are primarily interested in connecting with friends and family via text messages and social media while staying up-to-date with the latest tv shows, movies, and videos. Below, we’ve listed the most popular apps for teens today.
7 Popular Apps Teens Commonly Use
TikTok is a social media platform that allows users to create and post short-form videos that last 15-60 seconds. Users can publish any content they like such as lip syncing and dance challenges. There are a number of video filters, transitions, and other tools that can be used to enhance videos.
On the app, users have the choice to create a public or private profile, and connect with whoever they like. For the safety of kids, TikTok comes with many parental controls including Family Pairing, which allows a parent to connect their TikTok account with their child’s account. Only those that are 13 & older can join the platform, and those that are under 18-years-old must have permission from their guardian or parent.
Snapchat is one of the ways teens instantly communicate with one another. The app lets users post short videos (called “Snaps”) that can be seen by their friends. Snaps only last 24 hours and then they disappear from the platform. However, it’s common for users to screenshot their own or another’s Snaps, so they don’t truly disappear. Users can also send direct messages to friends that only they can see.
One feature parents need to watch out for is Snap Map. Snap Map allows users to share their real-time location with their friends. This is especially dangerous for teens as it could lead to them being targeted by sexual predators or stalked. Snapchat users must be 13-years-old and up.
Teens love to use Instagram to share photos and videos from sports, activities, and of their friends and family. The platform is basically the Facebook for today’s teens. To share what they are doing on a daily basis, many create an Instagram Story. Stories come with many features including filters, GIFs, polls, and more.
Users can create private or public accounts, and choose who they follow and who follows them. Anyone can send a user direct messages unless the user alters this in their privacy settings. Users on Instagram must be 13 or older.
YouTube is the most popular platform to watch videos of any type. Many teens like to subscribe and stay up-to-date with their favorite YouTubers including Dude Perfect, MrBeast, and Jojo Siwa. Unlike other platforms, YouTube doesn’t include many parental controls for teens who use the main YouTube site. For young children however, there is YouTube Kids which filters out inappropriate content, but most teens don’t use it.
Instead of teens watching TV shows and movies when they premiere, many watch them on streaming services like Netflix. Netflix contains content that covers all types of genres and is for all ages. Popular shows on the platform teens enjoy include Riverdale, The Vampire Diaries, and Stranger Things.
The platform is very parent-friendly, containing many parental control settings for them to use. For example, parents can choose the maturity ratings for specific profiles on their Netflix account. Not all of the content is appropriate for everyone, but it is still a great service to use for all ages.
Back in the day, music lovers would have to buy CDs or music on iTunes to listen to music. Now, using Spotify to listen to music is popular among tweens and teens. Users can listen to any song or album they wish, and create their own playlists. They can also listen to Spotify-curated radios, or playlists published by other users. The service is really simple and can be accessed on all major devices via their app or a web browser.
Discord is a chat app that lets users send texts, videos, and voice messages to others. Initially, the app was focused on bringing those who love video games together. Now, it seeks to connect people with similar interests from dancing to school clubs. Only those that are 13-years-old and up are allowed to use Discord.
App Advice For Parents
Know What Apps Your Teen Is Using
As a parent, you should know what apps your teen is using. This is not just for their safety, but to make sure they are using age-appropriate apps. There are multiple methods parents can use:
- Simply ask them what apps they are using.
- Going through their phone, with their permission, randomly every month.
- Utilizing family phone monitoring tools like Google Family Link that can track all the apps a child is using.
Use Parental Controls On Their Apps & Devices
Parental controls can allow parents to monitor and restrict a number of things that pertain to apps. This may include:
- Seeing how much time they spend using apps.
- Controlling how much time they use specific apps for.
- Setting times when specific apps cannot be used such as after bedtime.
- Restricting the content they can view on an app. This includes blocking explicit content.
- Enabling or disabling in-app direct messaging.
Be Aware Of App Security Protocols
Many of the popular apps teens use are taking security and safety measures to protect their users. Some of these measures include filtering bullying or negative comments, age verification, the ability to make a private account, and more.
Stay Up-To-Date With The Latest Social Media Apps & Trends
As a parent, you need to be informed about the social media apps your child is using and the latest trends. For example, knowing about a dangerous TikTok challenge that younger teens and kids are participating in. Being informed will help keep your teen safe and provide a more enjoyable experience for them.
Know Who Your Child Is Connecting & Talking With On Apps
Unfortunately, not everyone your child friends, follows, or messages with on social media and apps will be people they know. For their safety, make sure your teenager only connects with those that they know. Tell them to also be on the lookout for fake accounts who are impersonating people they know.
Check out our resource guide on smartphone safety!