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What is Twitter?

Elon Musk has begun rebranding Twitter as “X” – We are watching as this develops.

Description: A way to share your life’s moments 280 characters at a time. It is one of the top-10 most popular websites globally and has been around since 2006. Registered users can read and post messages or “tweets” while unregistered users can only read messages. Twitter can be used through the app or the website, www.twitter.com.

Update: In 2022, Elon Musk acquired Twitter and has made multiple changes to the platform. While the state of Twitter was uncertain during this transitional time, people still use Twitter and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere. However, its rules are constantly changing.

Category: Lifestyle

App Store age rating: 17+

What Parents Need to Know:

While Twitter is often the first place to see what’s happening around the world, being hurtful and offensive is far too easy. The news is full of sports figures, celebrities, and presidents who use Twitter to “vent” and say regretful things. 

According to a study by Tech Detox, “each word of moral outrage added to a tweet increases the rate of retweets by 17%.” It takes little effort to get noticed on Twitter for this kind of behavior, making cyberbullies rampant on this platform. While you can delete Tweets (famous people do this all the time), someone could’ve still seen it or taken a screenshot. What you say here does not stay here. The same is true for inappropriate and sensitive content.

Adult Content is Allowed. In our opinion, Twitter is rated X. Their latest content policy states, “We believe that users should have the freedom to create, share, and consume material related to sexual themes, provided it is consensually produced and distributed. Sexual expression, whether visual or written, can be a legitimate form of artistic expression.” The line between pornography and art gets blurred, very quickly. Twitch, a popular live-streaming app, made the same change to their content policy earlier this year, and has since reversed their artistic opinion. In reality, allowing adult content on any platform turns it into a porn site. Currently. Twitter remains available on both the Apple and Google app stores. But make no mistake, Twitter is not for kids!

Reputations Ruined. Cancel culture is real and often starts on Twitter. One offensive tweet has the potential to ruin someone’s reputation. Back in February 2015, Twitter signed a deal with Google giving them access to show daily tweets in Google’s search results. This means people searching on Google might find your Tweets. Even if you delete the tweet, the damage it’s usually too late.

Unfiltered Browsing. Major search engines all have Twitter accounts with their website URLs linked on their profile. Users can tap the links and begin using those search engines through Twitter. This method offers unfiltered access to the internet. 

Location Sharing. Most apps ask to use your location, we’ve always said it’s best to turn off location sharing whenever possible. Twitter is no exception.

How to make Twitter a little safer:

  1. Use your kid’s actual age. Twitter will ask for a birthday when setting up an account, use the month and year your kid was born in (don’t give Twitter their actual birthday). Sensitive content is disabled by default. Users under 18 can not change anything about this! Please use your kids’ real age!
  2. Make your account private, by selecting “Protect My Tweets” so that only approved followers can see your Tweets. Underneath this is another important setting, be sure to keep Photo tagging off. Settings > Privacy and Safety > Audience and Tagging > enable “Protect your Tweets” / Photo tagging: Off
  3. Mute people and block. Content from Muted Accounts won’t show up in your feed. Content from Blocked users are hidden, they can’t message or follow you, and you won’t receive notifications from them. Mute or Block users by tapping the “…” in the left corner on their page. Users aged 18+ can enable a setting that let’s them view blocked accounts. Manage muted or blocked accounts by going to Settings > Privacy and Safety > Mute and Block
  4. Disable Direct Messages Requests. Settings > Privacy and Safety > Direct Messages > disable “Allow message requests from everyone”
  5. Disable Discoverability. Settings > Privacy and Safety > Discoverability and Contacts > disable both options
  6. Turn off video auto-play. Settings > Accessibility, Display, and Languages > Data Usage > enable “Data Saver”
  7. Mute #hashtags you don’t want to see. Click on the specific #Hashtag and select Mute.
  8. Turn on the Quality Filter. Settings > Notifications > Filters > enable “Quality filter”
  9. Be wary of users with the Blue verification check mark on their profile. This was previously a way to ensure the legitimacy of an account, but now anyone can pay a monthly fee and get the check mark.
  10. Sensitive content is disabled by default. Users under 18 can not change anything about this! This is why you must use your kids’ real age. Users 18+ on the Twitter App can simply follow the link provided by Twitter to change their content settings by signing in again. If using the website, all you have to do is go into the settings. Again, these safety settings are enabled by default and can only be changed by accounts aged 18+

Bottom Line:

Is Twitter safe for my kid? NO.

If using the internet is like teaching a kid how to ride a bike, then Twitter is a motorcycle made for adult riders. While this platform can help keep people informed with what is happening around the world day to day, we believe it’s far more harmful than helpful for younger users. 

What if I have more questions? How can I stay up to date?

Two actions you can take!

  1. Subscribe to our tech trends newsletter, the PYE Download. About every 3 weeks, we’ll share what’s new, what the PYE team is up to, and a message from Chris.
  2. Ask your questions in our private parent community called The Table! It’s not another Facebook group. No ads, no algorithms, no asterisks. Just honest, critical conversations and deep learning! For parents who want to “go slow” together. Become a member today!

The Table - Private Community from PYE

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