“I check their social media accounts all the time! I’ve never seen anything offensive on their account.”

This is a statement often heard when talking to parents about safeguarding their students and social media. While we all try to keep up with new technology, many times, trouble starts with apps and usages parents don’t even know exist.

Communicating in today’s society for teens is more about ‘what you know’ and ‘when you knew it’. This is critically important for students.  Without having the latest technology, the newest apps, or next social media trend, students aren’t going to have their ideal experience.

To Be Honest

The latest top selling free app in the Apple App Store is ‘TBH’ (To Be Honest). TBH is a free social networking app that lets friends anonymously answer questions about one another, these responses are usually very targeted for popularity focused youth such as ‘see who likes you’. Keep in mind questions are entirely controlled by the developer and as such, aren’t directly mean or insulting; however, leave it to teens to find ways to make the answers seem cruel. Users submit their own ideas for poll questions to be reviewed by the developer and ultimately added to the question pool. Registration passively assumes the user’s age by asking for the highest grade completed in high school or college. It also accesses users’ phone contacts lists and location to help the user identify the school they attend. There’s currently no direct messaging, though the privacy policy does mention a chat feature which may be an added feature at some point (Johnson, 2017).


TBH was designed to be the opposite of the summer’s most popular free download – Sarahah.  Sarahah, much like TBH, was a feedback app designed to insert anonymous feedback to others.  Huffington Post says that because all comments were anonymous, it’s became too easy for people to say hurtful things without regard for consequences. Without active moderation, Sarahah easily became an easy way to target and cyber bully other peers – students frequently posted crude and mean anonymous postings about one’s peers.

Tips for the Big 4

Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram are great ways to keep connected with friends and family. You’re probably even friends with your son or daughter and you likely periodically check-in on them. Had you considered you might be looking at their ‘politically correct’ account?

According to Facebook, 10% of users on social media have a duplicate or throwaway account.  Some teenagers want you to feel free to look at their first account as they know the account’s likely to be watched and won’t mind anyone looking at this harmless account. Many times the duplicate account is under a false name, perhaps a nickname, that only their friends would know. This is where they post what they are really feeling or doing.  This trend has become so common on Instagram that the accounts have been titled ‘Finstas’ or Fake Insta(gram)s (Birdsong, 2017). Now that Instagram allows toggling between accounts, Finsta’s are easier to detect; tap the username at the top of the screen, then select any additional accounts you’d like to swap to (if there are any additional accounts configured).

Family Sharing

With SnapChat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and many more platforms, students are exposing themselves to actions that lead to feelings of being ashamed,angry, embarrassed, poor self-esteem, depreciating grades and ultimately relationship withdrawal. It is important to realize that situations today are more harmful than during their parents time. We encourage you to know what not only your child is doing on their devices, but more importantly what others are saying to and about your child.

How can you manage this?  Apple came out a few years ago with a feature called Family Sharing.  After setting up Family Sharing, you can add your family members’ Apple IDs to your Family. Parents can then give permissions for every app downloads or in-app purchase.  With a simple deny or approve, you’ll have a head start on knowing what your student’s accessing.  There are many more benefits to family sharing, such as only having to purchase an app once for the whole family, you can learn more about Family Sharing on Apple’s iCloud page.

Hopefully this posting has helped you, as parents, understand how your son or daughter may be using social media and provide you with the knowledge to help your child avoid online situations that can become detrimental to their current or future well-being.

Always be on the lookout for new apps and trends. Every once in a blue moon, Google phrases like, ‘top social media trends’, ‘top chat app downloads’, etc.  Awareness is the best way you can stay informed and protect your students.



Birdsong, Toni. “Finsta: What You Need to Know About Your Teen’s Fake Instagram Account.” McAfee Blogs, Aug. 2017, securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/finsta-parents-know-teens-fake-instagram-accounts/.

Johnson, Neilie. “Tbh – App Review.” Common Sense Media: Ratings, Reviews, and Advice, Common Sense Media, Dec. 2017, www.commonsensemedia.org/app-reviews/tbh.

Media, Common Sense. “What Parents Need To Know About Sarahah, The Anonymous Messaging App Sweeping The Globe.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 2017, www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/everything-you-need-to-know-about-sarahah-the-anonymous_us_599b51eee4b0ac90