This is What’s So Surprising About How Kids Use Twitter

The other day I was speaking with a group of kids about the apps they use and how they use them. Twitter came up as a favorite and this group (of really great kids) gave me the 411 on how they love to use it. I learned so much!

It’s so important to keep up with not just what apps our kids are using, but how they use them—this tends to be different than how even those of us who are online would think. So here’s what I learned about Twitter and how our kids use it.

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Twitter 101

First, let’s dig into the basics. Twitter is a social site where kids can share their thoughts, articles, photos, and videos in 140 characters or less. It is fast paced and a FUN space to connect with friends, strangers, and sometimes even public figures.

The kids I talked to loved this feature—they felt that their favorite celebrities were “touchable” via Twitter.

I remember writing fan mail to celebrities I loved as a kid and after awhile realizing that I wasn’t ever going to hear back from them. I was so struck by how lucky our kids are that they have a really great chance of talking directly to celebrities they admire via Twitter. This makes our world seem so much smaller. 

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Some things of note

On Twitter you can:

  • Follow people who don't follow you (and vice versa).
  • Send private messages, but both parties have to be following each other on Twitter for this to work. 
  • Search topics by #hashtags and tweet at a specific person or at a group by simply tagging their @UserName, also called their @Handle.

Make sure that your kids understand this

A few things to note about Twitter is that every tweet is archived and searchable for FOREVER even on private accounts.

We have to really make sure that our kids understand this before their online use gets bigger and wider and their digital tattoos get deeper.

Note my use of digital tattoo instead of the usual digital footprint; it is much more permanent and hard to remove your online activity than the word footprint implies!

What kids love about Twitter

Many kids use Twitter the way adults used to a few years ago—to interact with their friends. They may share less content, articles, or links, and rely more heavily on funny hashtags and conversations.

One thing to note with how kids use Twitter is it highlights that they may interact with different groups of people on different social sites.

They may go on Twitter to only discuss certain topics or to only keep up with a certain group of friends or topic.

You can see what topics kids are searching (and receiving input from) by clicking into their hashtags or starting to type # in the Search field in their account or by asking them and starting a conversation with them about this. 

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Ease of use

It is really easy to set up a Twitter account and, like other social sites, this can be problematic with kids setting up fake accounts to interact with or harass others. Discussing this is really important, as is coming back to only posting what you'd be okay with everyone you know (and don't know) seeing.

Twitter is just one app of many that our kids are loving today. If your kids are starting to show an interest in the online world, I have a detailed checklist for you to use. It’s super helpful and you can get it RIGHT HERE.

Galit Breen is the author of Kindness Wins, a simple, no-nonsense guide to teaching our kids how to be kind online; the TEDx Talk, “Raising a digital kid without having been one”; the online course Raise Your Digital Kid™; and the Facebook group The Savvy Parents Club. You can get her parents’ checklist for moms of new(ish) digital kids RIGHT HERE.

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This is What’s So Surprising About How Kids Use Twitter

Galit Breen is the bestselling author of Kindness Wins, a simple guide to teaching your child to be kind online; the TEDx Talk, “Raising a digital kid without having been one”; the online course Raise Your Digital Kid™; and the Facebook group The Savvy Parents Club. She believes you can get your child a phone and still create a grass-beneath-their-bare-feet childhood for them. Galit’s writing has been featured on The Huffington Post; The Washington Post; Buzzfeed; TIME; and more. She liv ... More

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