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Social Media 101

Social media has its pros and cons. It's an amazing tool for sharing information and displaying one's creativity, but it can also serve as a major distraction. From Facebook to Snapchat, from Twitter to Oovoo, the list of popular platforms seems never-ending. 

But seeing as how it is only growing in popularity and importance, the intelligent way to approach social media is to be educated on it. Learn what these platforms are and how they are used. Learn what's positive about them and what is negative. Learn how they can be beneficial and how they can be a distraction.

Welcome to Social 101, where each month, we will introduce and examine some of the most popular social media sites in the world in hopes of helping parents and students gain a firm grasp on social media's role in today's society.

List of 7 items.

  • Tumblr

    View Tumblr

    Social media type
    : Microblog

    Launch: February 2007

    Users: 420 million+

    Microblogs: 232 million+

    Posts: 108 billion+

    Monthly visitors (worldwide): 199 million+
     
    Tumblr is the social media behemoth that doesn’t get the attention it most likely deserves. It is not on the level of a Facebook in terms of popularity amongst all age groups across the board, but its statistics, in terms of visitors and in terms of growth on a global scale, are staggering.

    Tumblr is often mistaken for a blog, but technically, it is a microblog. Blogs, by social definition, are closer to online diaries that feature a wealth of photos and videos, and heavy, wordy content, given that blogs have no word count restrictions. Blogs are often seen as learning tools, and companies/organizations regularly use blogging platforms, such as Wordpress, as their professional website.

    Microblogs are, essentially, mini-blogs. A microblog features quick posts, usually meant to relay real-time information or succinct knowledge for the reader. The most popular microblog is Twitter. Microblogs are used as a platform to interact with others and exchange ideas in a timely manner.

    It’s safe to say Tumblr fits somewhere between the realm of blogging and microblogging. It allows more word space for its users than a Twitter, but its focus is not on delivering clear, organized information in the fashion of a traditional blog. Many Tumblrs are used solely for pictures, which can be “reblogged” from one Tumblr page to another. Tumblr users have the ability to be solely in charge of their page and can follow other Tumblr pages, which will populate their custom news feeds.

    Tumblr, although a website that promotes imagination and inspiration, can be unsafe for young eyes (tumblr.com/docs/en/nsfw). The website allows for adult content to be published and there are millions of adult-oriented pages. Those pages are not as readily accessible as pages that aren’t marked as adult, but they exist and can be located with a little searching. However, Tumblr does employ a Safe Mode, which will block all adult content from popping up in tags or search results. Visit tumblr.com/search, search any topic in the search field at the top, and then on the right side of the page, a padlock symbol will appear. Click it on to put a specific page in Safe Mode.
  • Snapchat

    View Snapchat

    Social Media type
    : Photo messaging

    Launch: September 2011

    Users: 100 million+

    Snaps sent per day: 700 million+

    Stories viewed per day: 1 billion+

    Age requirement: 13+

    Snapchat is arguably the most entertaining, and frankly, the silliest of the major social media platforms. It is designed to share pictures and videos between Snapchat users, but not allow the recipient to save the picture or video they received.

    Users can take a picture or video, known as a Snap, and choose the amount of time that the Snap can be viewed by the recipients. The user can allow the Snap to be viewable for between 1-10 seconds and Snaps can be sent to multiple users at a time. Snapchat also provides the option for users to create a “My Story” section, where certain Snaps can be saved by the user and then viewed continuously by their Snapchat friends.

    Snapchat users also have the option of drawing on the photos they take, meaning they could color in the hair of a friend, draw a sun in the sky, etc.

    Snapchat is often used as an innocent tool for sharing quick, fun moments with friends, but at times, the application has been used for sharing inappropriate photos or videos. Due to the fact that Snaps expire in a chosen amount of time, it is sometimes considered safe to share inappropriate content because the Snap will not remain on the recipient’s phone. However, smartphones’ ability to take screenshots has made it easy for recipients to capture content sent via Snapchat. So, although the platform was designed so that Snaps cannot be saved, they can, meaning users should not share anything that they do not want to be captured by the recipient. There are conflicting reports about users’ tendency to share inappropriate material, but there have been several documented instances in which illicit behavior has been promoted via the application, such as was the case with a Snapchat controversy at Arizona State University earlier this year. In the end, Snapchat is a tool that if used appropriately, can promote spontaneous, good-natured fun between friends. But like with any social media platform, if used inappropriately, Snapchat can result in negative circumstances for its users.
  • Twitter

    View Twitter

    Social media type
    : Microblog

    Launch: March 2006

    Monthly active users: 302 million+

    Registered users: 1 billion

    Users in the U.S.: 52 million+

    Tweets per day: 500 million+

    The position of “top dog” in the social media world used to belong to Facebook, but when it comes to the most used social media platform across the board, from kids to adults to celebrities to athletes, Twitter reigns supreme.

    Twitter is a microblog (mini-blog) that allows its users to send out what are known as ‘tweets.’ Tweets are 140-character messages about anything. Users often tweet about sporting events, awards shows, fundraisers, personal emotions, jokes...just about whatever is on their mind at the moment. Users can also add photos to their tweets, as well as links to photos, websites, online articles, etc. Twitter users can follow the accounts of other users in order to see their tweets on their own timeline. Users can also make their accounts private, meaning those wishing to follow that account must get the approval of the account’s owner first, or, block other users, meaning those users cannot see their account.  

    When following a specific account, or if an account is not private, meaning all of its tweets can be seen, users have the option of ‘retweeting’ specific tweets, or essentially, copying another user’s tweet and posting it on their own account. Users can also ‘favorite’ certain tweets as a means of saving the tweets they find most appealing. Finally, users can send direct messages to other users that follow them.

    Hashtags might be the most popular aspect of Twitter. A hashtag is a word or phrase that follows the ‘ # ‘ symbol, and people use hashtags as a means of following certain topics as opposed to certain people. The most popular hashtags pop up on the left side of users’ timelines and when clicked on, popular tweets incorporating that hashtag replace one’s timeline.

    Twitter can be both positive and negative for the same reason: its popularity. When attempting to fundraise or get the word out about a positive message or opportunity, Twitter is a fantastic tool to reach a large amount of people. But when attempting to spread negativity, Twitter is also a great tool. Celebrities and athletes tend to be extremely popular on Twitter, seeing as how the platform is a great way to connect directly with fans. On the other hand, however, that direct interaction with fans has proven troublesome for many celebrities and athletes who might respond to fan's criticism.

    In terms of the high school realm, Twitter can be used for joking and innocent conversation between friends, but it can also be used for cyber-bullying and discussing crude topics. For instance, there is a specific Twitter account in which students at Orange County high schools can have their tweets published anonymously, essentially giving them the freedom to say whatever they feel about their high school or post potentially incriminating pictures of kids/staff from their schools.

    In the end, like with any social media platform, it’s about how you use it. Twitter, because of its size and reach, can be one of the most powerful social media platforms, for good and bad.
  • Vine

    View Vine

    Social media type
    : Video-sharing

    Launch: January 2013

    Users: 40 million+

    Video views per day: 1.5 billion+ loops (times a video is watched)

    Video views annually: 500 billion+

    Age requirement: 17+

    Vine is a mobile app that allows users to make and share short videos. They are usually only six seconds or less in length, and they continually loop so that the same six seconds shows over and over. Most vines are fun and comedic-based. The platform has also been used for educational and social awareness purposes.

    Vine exploded with popularity among tweens and teens right when it was released, jumping 639 percent in users during the year 2013. Vine was the first app in its genre of sharing short videos, and even though Instagram now has a video feature, Vine has retained its popularity.

    Many teenagers post themselves doing funny actions or singing, and some have gathered a following of millions of people. Vine has been viewed as a new platform to find talent, sending popular Viners, such as Shawn Mendes and Nash Grier, into teenage stardom.

    When Vine was first released, the age limit was 12. Unfortunately, inappropriate material surfaced soon after the platform’s release, and after a public outcry, the age limit was raised to 17. Steps have been taken to stop posting of inappropriate material on Vine, but the site largely relies on flagging done by other Vine members. Flagging is accomplished when a member of Vine clicks on a user’s video and selects an option saying that that the video contains inappropriate content. But because there are major differences on the public's opinion of inappropriate, it is not wise to rely on public flagging.

    Although there have been no major Vine scandals, just like all social media, it is still possible to find inappropriate videos on the site. Also, because of the video nature of Vine, it is easy for viewers to determine a user’s location and on occasion, personal information. Fortunately, users can set their Vine account to “Private” so that only followers they approve may view their posts. For the most part, Vine remains a popular platform largely based on a display of good-natured comedy and displaying users’ talents.
  • Instagram

    View Instagram

    Social media type
    : Photo and video sharing

    Launch: October 2010

    Users: 300 million+

    Posts per day: 70 million+ posts with users hitting

    ‘Likes’ per day: 2.5 billion

    Teen usage: 41% of users are age 16-24

    Age requirement: 13+

    Instagram is a photo and video sharing app on which users can post pictures and videos to share with their followers, and is now the most used social media app. Owned by Facebook, it has a large following and popularity among people of all ages. Families use it to keep up with relatives, businesses use it for advertising purposes, and teenagers use it for just about everything. Users also have the ability to send photos, along with messages, directly to each other using the direct message option.

    There have been a total of 16 billion posts to Instagram since its launch in 2010. Users can post anything, although the most common pictures are of activities, fashion, travel, sports, and food.

    Similar to Twitter, users can put “hashtags” on their posts, which is a word or group of words preceded by the ‘#’ symbol. When a post is hashtagged, it is put into a group of photos that are similar to it, making it easier for other users to find photos of in certain categories. For example, if someone were to search ‘#worldcup,’ they would find millions of pictures regarding the World Cup soccer tournament. Hashtags serve to categorize photos and make searching for content easier.

    Although there is nothing inherently dangerous about Instagram, there is always the concern that inappropriate material can be posted and then viewed by a young audience. Certain hashtags have been known to be code to reach lewd photos or videos. So, while there have not been any notable scandals regarding Instagram, parents should be aware that their children can have access to existing inappropriate content.

    As with any social media, there is a concern about privacy. Fortunately, users have the option to make their account “private,” which means that only followers they approve can see their posts. Users should also turn their location settings off so that others can not see the location from which they posted a photo or video. When managed correctly, Instagram can be a fun way to share experiences with friends and family.
  • ooVoo


    Social media type: Video/chat messaging

    Launch: 2007

    Users: 100,000,000+

    Users under age 25: 65 percent

    Video call minutes per month: 1 billion

    Age requirement: 13+

    OoVoo is a video chat platform that users use to communicate with one or multiple people. OoVoo has grown popular because, unlike Facetime, users can see multiple people on the screen at a time. With ooVoo, you can video chat with up to 12 people at a time. You can see four people at once on screen during these video chats. The program can be used on iPhones, iPads, Androids, Mac laptops, and PC computers.

    OoVoo is considered relatively safe because location settings do not give away where you are in the world, and privacy settings allow users to select who they are “friends” with. When both users accept each other as mutual friends, both parties can call the other to video chat. Using privacy settings allows for people to find you only if you give them your username or email address, and then accept them as a friend.

    There have been issues of teenagers video chatting with strangers to “meet new people." Parents should discuss the dangers of this with their child. When used safely, ooVoo can be a great way to keep in touch. Many students will group video chat each other to study, go over course information, and quiz one another before a test. Group study sessions have been found to be beneficial for students, and ooVoo allows this to happen without students having to travel to their friends’ houses.
     
  • Kik

    View Kik

    Social media type: Instant messaging

    Launch: October 2010

    Users: 200 million

    Percentage of U.S. teen users: 40%

    Age requirement: Rated 17+ in the app store but widely used by 13-18 year olds

    Kik is an instant messenger app very similar to texting. It is a free app available on all mobile platforms. Many people who have limiting texting download the Kik app as an alternative. They use their data plan or Wi-Fi connection to message other users. These people have usernames instead of phone numbers.

    While there are no parental controls available, there are some measures of privacy that can be taken. Users have to invite and accept other people to be able to chat with them. This prevents unwanted communication with strangers. But, users have ultimate control over who they accept as “friends,” and may choose to have contact with strangers. Parents should talk to their children about internet safety and protecting their identity online. Teens should never give away personal information.

    Kik is known to be used by teens/tweens for purposes of interacting with other teens/tweens, often of the opposite gender. They will proactively use the app as a way to potentially hide messaging conversations from parents or guardians. Parents often get the false impression that texting is the only way that their children communicate on their cellular phones, and will only monitor that form of interaction. However, they should be aware that Kik is a popular form of messaging, and that users can easily delete chats so that others cannot view the content.

Happy Sunday! #OLuVerseOfTheWeek #WeAreOLu

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Orange, CA 92867
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Who We Are

Founded in 1973, Orange Lutheran High School, is a comprehensive private Christian co-educational college preparatory high school, grades 9-12, that exists to help students internalize the gospel message of salvation in Christ Jesus. The culture and climate of Orange Lutheran is based on caring relationships that strengthen our community as a Lancer Family. High standards of excellence coupled with a warm, energetic atmosphere create a safe, nurturing environment where students can thrive, as they discover and develop their unique gifts, talents, and passions.