What is Twitter?
Twitter is a popular microblogging and social networking site. Once you create an account, you can post periodic updates about yourself— what you're thinking about, what you're doing, what the person next to you is doing, or just about anything—so long as the post is 140 characters or shorter. These short posts are called "tweets."
Another feature is "hashtagging." A hashtag is a word or acronym used to describe a tweet in order for people to easily follow the conversation. Hashtags began as a community effort to tag individual tweets. Once their popularity took off, Twitter began supporting hashtags by automatically linking them into the search engine.
Twitter has become extremely popular. In fact there have been times where the site has been overloaded by the amount of users on it. When Twitter is experiencing technical difficulties you will see the image of a whale, often referred to as the Fail Whale.
One feature of Twitter is its Trending Topics section. Trending topics are those that are being talked about in a lot of tweets. These topics often align with major news stories, new music and movies, and holidays.
- Users can easily share quick thoughts and happenings with friends and family.
- Twitter can help people network with others on a large scale.
- Users can follow celebrities.
- The Twitter rules state, "You may not use obscene or pornographic images in either your profile photo, header photo, or user background." Everywhere else is fair game. Twitter provides no age verification for users to browse content, and consequently nudity and pornography are easily accessible. The use of hashtags makes searching for objectionable material on Twitter very efficient. Parents should consider Twitter to be a porn-friendly place and make decisions for their children accordingly.
- Like any social networking site, using Twitter will allow your child to interact with people across the globe. Online predators and other shady characters may try to start a conversation with your child.
- Twitter has become spam's newest frontier. Your child may get pointless or offensive "tweets" from strangers.
- Unlike on Facebook, it's harder to maintain a small, private circle of contacts on Twitter. This can be a great advantage if you want to build a large network quickly, but may not be good for kids and teens.
- Avoid over-sharing on Twitter. Please Rob Me is a website dedicated to exposing the dangers of posting too much information on Twitter.
How Can I Keep My Child Safe?
- Twitter profiles have privacy settings. You can allow as many or as few people as you'd like to see a Twitter page.
- After setting age-appropriate privacy and security settings for your child (note that the minimum age to create a Twitter account is 13), reiterate the basics of Internet safety. Anything posted online has the potential to be seen by anybody! Be wise about what personal information is posted and follow all rules of Netiquette.
- Be sure your child chooses a safe username that will not attract sexual predators or cyberbullies.
Where Can I Learn More?
Here's a helpful article outlining what parents should know about Twitter.
Read this blog post about Twitter and kids.
Survey shows people would not pay for Twitter.