Description: A way to share your life’s moments 140 characters at a time. It is one of the top-10 most popular websites globally. 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.
APP Store age rating: 17+ (a recent change – it was rated 4+ for years)
Too Many Voices – the news is full of sports figures and celebrities who have used Twitter to “vent” and say regretful things. Twitter gives potential cyberbullies a fast way to say dumb and hurtful things. Additionally, anyone, regardless of whether or not they have a Twitter account, can access all of Twitter’s content (tweets, pictures) through the public search feature. Twitter is full of porn in the way of pictures and looping videosapp – see separate write-up). Just type in a female name, and you can almost be guaranteed that the search results will contain something young eyes shouldn’t see.
Porn is Everywhere – because parents perceive it to be “just” words, it is flying under the radar in terms of pornographic material but it is being used by more and more middle school students. The hashtag feature just creates a repository of specific themes for people to troll, i.e., #girls, #kikme, #snapchatnudes, etc.
My Reputation is Shot – since it’s so easy to tweet whatever is on your mind, Twitter is an easy spot to do reputational damage to others and yourself, if not used carefully. Starting in February 2015, Twitter signed a deal with Google giving them access to half a billion daily tweets that will now show up in Google’s search results.
Some Monitoring and Blocking – the Twitter app and website can be effectively blocked with OpenDNS on both Apple and Android devices, using the “social networking” category.
If you delete the Twitter app and force use through the web with a filtered/monitored browser like Covenant Eyes, then you can see what your young internet user is searching for within Twitter and have conversations.
Unfiltered Browsing (problematic) – Recently, we discovered that users can access unfiltered internet searches through Twitter. The major search engines have a Twitter profile, and also have their URL’s on their profile. Through these URL’s in Twitter, e.g., google.com, yahoo.com, bing.com (even tumblr.com), users have unfiltered access to the web. Parents must be aware of this.
Location Sharing – we share too much information about our location with the social media world. Here’s how to control it better in Twitter.
Twitter just makes us nervous. If using the Internet is like teaching a kid how to ride a bike, then it is too much for a young user. Based on the risks, we do not recommend Twitter for anyone in middle school and parents of high school students should be involved in their child’s usage through monitoring Twitter activity.
If you do decide to give you child Twitter, the Bark app connects to the Twitter account and monitors for inappropriate or risky search terms, and then sends a report to parents.