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TWITTER: What Parents Need To Know

TWITTER.  It is currently rated as the 10th most visited web site….in the WORLD!

Twitter has been linked with political actions, disaster communications, the Oscars and Super Bowl, and just about everything else!

So, what IS Twitter, and why should parents care?

Let’s take a quick look!

Twitter is a social media site/program/app that was founded back in 2006.  It rapidly caught on because it allowed for the rapid, world-wide sharing of information on computers and portable devices, such as phones and tablets.  People used it to share information, or just tell folks what kind of day they were having.

It was HUGE HIT!

Soon people were using Twitter to keep up with what was going on at conferences and sporting events and just during the day…  When something was happening in the world (earthquake, revolution, epidemic, etc.) you could expect to stay up-to-date via Twitter. It often became the de facto news service during major events.

There was just one catch: A  “tweet” could only be 140 characters long!!!

Now, to the kids, that was an AWESOME challenge!  Also to the techies!

Twitter grew by leaps and bounds, and is now available on computers, tablets, smart phones, and even some cable systems.

Twitter employs something like FACEBOOK’s “friends” lists.  It’s called “following” a user.  You can follow, and you can be followed. This allows folksto interact with your tweets, and for them to interact with your tweets

Here is a screenshot of TWITTER off of my iPhone 5              >>>>>>>>>                      >>>>>>>>>

Note the following:

  • The top tweet is keeping track of a ball game.
  • The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th tweets have LINKS.
  • At the bottom, note that you can send/receive messages.
These tweets are seen globally.  Every tweet you make is readable by the entire planet.


So, what should parents be aware of?   Just a few things:
  • Anyone can contact you via Twitter.
  • Twitter does not have parental controls. If you search their help section, you get nothing
  • Tweets can include location data, allowing a person to be tracked by their tweets (if they are tweeting regularly)
  • Tweets can include links to pictures, web sites, and videos.  These are not filtered/censored/monitored.
  • Twitter does have limited privacy settings
If you have a child that is using Twitter there are some things you can do to help protect them.  All of these require that you log into their Twitter account and click on the settings icon (upper right of the browser window; looks like a “gear”).  Then, click on the “settings” item in the drop-down menu.
  1. Disable TWEET LOCATION by clicking on SECURITY AND PRIVACY and then making sure the box next to ” Add a location to my tweets” is unchecked.
  2. For children under 16, or for any child just beginning to use Twitter, check the box next to “Protect My Tweets”.  Then only the people they approve of can see their tweets.
  3. Make sure the box for “let others find me by my e-mail address” is unchecked.
  4. Click on PROFILE and make sure no personal information, including city/state, is listed.
Twitter can be useful and fun so long as you are careful, just like the jungle gym at the park.


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