4 camera apps to help improve your school photos

Visuals express ideas in a snackable manner
— Kim Garst, Founder & CEO of Boom! Social

In today's marketing visual content is king! Platforms such as Instagram are proven, effective ways to engage with your community.

For schools the most engaging visual content will be pictures of your pupils. Your community (i.e. parents) will typically scroll through a social channel's feed looking for one thing - their kid!

While this is good for getting engagement, it is very difficult to keep everyone happy - you're not going to systematically photograph each pupil so all parents have the same opportunity to spot them...are you?

Instead, you need to be able to create highly engaging visual pieces that everyone will engage with (regardless if their child is pictured or not). So, how do you stand out on channels like Instagram? What tools are out there to add a professional finish to any photo you snap? 

Here are our 4 favourite apps to add a whole new element to your visual content and up your marketing game. 👍

Snapseed

Snapseed is a powerful, FREE photo editing app, available for iOS and Android. While Instagram does have photo editing capabilities, Snapseed does it all better plus more! 

What many users find appealing about Snapseed is its accessibility - it strikes a nice balance between amateur and professional photo editing. There are all the usual editing tools (e.g. exposure, saturation, contrast and brightness) for newbies. But for the more advanced users there are lots of additional tools. 

Spot Repair, for example, helps remove unwanted elements from your photo and Transform is a fantastic tool for altering the perspective of your snaps. On top of this you can have access to a huge suite of pre-made filters, making it easier to make your pictures look awesome and social media ready.

The latest version of Snapseed (2.0) is also "non-destructive", meaning all edits made can be easily undone or removed, and you don't lose the original photo. This means that you have a lot more freedom to explore Snapseed's many features without the fear of making irreparable changes.

Finally, Snapseed was built from the ground-up as a mobile app - meaning its interface is suited for mobile devices. The design is intuitive, swiping left and right to gauge the "strength" of your edits, and tools are laid out in a simple grid. 

 

VSCO Cam

VSCO Cam is a little different from Snapseed. First and foremost it is a camera application, and not strictly a photo editing app. The strength in VSCO Cam comes from the high quality pictures you can take using it. It is free for both iOS and Android - with in-app purchases available. 

As a camera application VSCO Cam is brilliant! Colours are vivid, images sharp, whites are well balanced, and auto-exposure works really well. For many, this application is highly preferable to a phone or tablet's in-built camera application. 

You can take customisation further using preset filters (the app comes with 10 free ones and more can be purchased in-app) which can be fine-tuned using sliders.

If you don't fancy using any preset features you can adjust most aspects (such as: exposure, temperature, contrast, saturation, tint, shadows, and a lot more) using a simple slider tool. As well as this there are handy features such as cropping (with a very useful aspect adjustment feature) and picture rotation.

Preset filters on VSCO Cam

Preset filters on VSCO Cam

A final and very useful feature on VSCO Cam is how the ability to instantly share your awesome photos. The app can share to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and any compatible app you have installed on your mobile device (e.g. Messenger, WhatsApp, and Gmail).

 

Pic Stitch

Pic Stitch is all about creating collages to share as one beautifully framed image. This is especially handy if you have lots of good content that you want to merge into one piece of super content. 😎 You can download for free on iOS and Android

What makes Pic Stitch a useful collage creator is the freedom to create something bespoke. Not only do you have all the usual photo editing tools - which can be used on individual photos or across the entire collage of photos - but you also have the ability to create your own template. This means you are able to design a layout that fits around your imagery instead of making your imagery fit around a layout. 👍

With Pic Stitch you can take the usual photo collage one step further by adding in other media elements such as music or videos.

As with VSCO Cam, sharing to your social media channels is really easy. This added ability to share instantly to channels such as Instagram means you can curate great content in the one app and effortlessly share it to another. 

 

Camera+

Camera+ is only available for iOS. Priced at £2.99 on iPhone and £4.99 on iPad, we consider this a small price to pay for a great camera and photo editing tool.

The team behind Camera+ designed the app around the slogan It’s all about one thing... great photos! And that's exactly what they delivered! You could consider Camera+ as the Pro version of the iPhone's native camera application - offering you lots of new features that the standard camera app cannot.

For example, features such as Touch Exposure & Focus help give you greater definition over how light or dark your photos will come out as. An enhanced digital zoom and good stabiliser means you can take more steady pics of objects further away, and overlay grids will give you a better sense of composition.

Another great asset with Camera+ comes with he Clarity feature. This allows you to transform your normal pic into something spectacular with just a tap of a button. Clarity:

analyzes your photos and makes several intelligent adjustments that magically bring out details and breathe life into dull photos. There’s no need to futz with complicated and confusing controls…behind the scenes, we do all that and more for you through innovative “smart-processing”.

Click to enlarge: Photos enhanced with the Clarity feature on Camera+

Finally, Camera+ has the usual suite of advanced photo editing tools, as in-depth and intuitive as Snapseed and VSCO Cam, as well as preset filters - called Scenes - and a selection of Frames to add those finishing touches to your photos.

 

Equipment

With so many amazing stories being told on a daily basis in schools, it's important that you have the tools to capture these stories. The apps above are fantastic for adding ✨STAND OUT✨ elements to your photos but they do require equipment to be used properly!

Knowing what equipment is out there can be a minefield to navigate (there are A LOT of cameras to pick from). Luckily though, we have already written a blog exploring this very subject - complete with our recommendations! 😎 You can read it here.

 

We hope that this article has opened your eyes to some fantastic tools you can use in your visual content marketing strategy.

We'd love to hear your thoughts about everything you've just read, or perhaps you have some alternative ideas / apps to the ones on here. Please comment below.

Managing your Twitter accounts using TweetDeck

TweetDeck is a very interesting client, because it presents a view that no other client in the world presents, which is this multicolumn, massive amounts of information in one pane. And people really, really enjoy that.
— Jack Dorsey, Co-founder & CEO of Twitter

Do you have multiple Twitter accounts? Many schools now have subject-based Twitter accounts, and the growing number can be difficult to monitor. Your school may have as many as 50 accounts!

There are plenty of scheduling and content management tools you can use to combat this, but one of the favourites at @intSchools HQ is TweetDeck.

TweetDeck, exclusively for Twitter, is perhaps the single most effective way to monitor Twitter across a range of accounts in real-time. What's more - it is completely free and quick to get to grips with 😎

What is TweetDeck?

TweetDeck is a browser-based tool that gives you a comprehensive method of managing multiple Twitter accounts.

Originally this was available as both a desktop application and through a web browser. It could also be used for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and FourSquare. However, following Twitter's purchase of the software, it became a Twitter-exclusive tool and was made usable only via web browsers in 2016. 

TweetDeck offers users a single interface for doing everything you could possibly need to do on Twitter - tweeting, replying, retweeting, favouriting, direct messaging, following, viewing accounts - with the added bonus of being able to manage to do all of these across multiple Twitter accounts.

This means you don't need to have various browsers open or continually have to switch between accounts in-app. It is a simple, one-stop platform you can utilise for effective, real-time Twitter use and monitoring.

Getting started: columns

To get started on TweetDeck all you need to do is Log In using your Twitter username and password.

Columns are the heart and soul of TweetDeck - each column can be set up with lots of additional filters to make management as focussed as you require.

To add a new column simply click the + icon seen on the left-hand side. This will give you the various column choices:

  • Home: real-time feed of your account's Home feed (i.e. what others are posting)
  • User: real-time feed of your account's profile feed (i.e. what you are posting)
  • Notifications: real-time feed of your account's notifications (i.e. @user has followed you)
  • Search: specify a search term (e.g. a #hashtag) in the same way you would on Twitter

 

  • List: create or view in real-time a list you already follow
  • Collection: a timeline of curated Tweets, hand-selected by you, to share with others. This is a TweetDeck tool and should not be confused with Twitter Moments⚡️.  You can view created Collections or create a new collection here
  • Activity: a real-time feed of what’s happening with your account
  • Likes: view Tweets marked as likes from your account
  • Messages: Direct Messages for your account (or all accounts you have authorised on TweetDeck)
  • Mentions: when users mention your account (or all accounts you have authorised on TweetDeck)
  • Followers: follow activity for your account
  • Scheduled: your scheduled Tweets (yes, TweetDeck allows you to schedule Tweets too 👍)
  • Trending: specific worldwide trends (e.g. #WorldBookDay or General Election)

Understanding how columns work and the different metrics you can take from them will largely inform how you choose to set up your TweetDeck. You are not limited to how many columns you have open at any one time. However, keeping them reduced, perhaps with filters in place too, will make managing the information you can see on TweetDeck a lot easier.

Getting started: filters

Using filters on your columns is an effective way to really focus on the metrics you desire. There are two main types of filters you can play around with:

  • User filters
  • Content filters

To open your filter choices click the caret icon on the top-right to expand the menu (see screenshot below) to expand. 

User filters

These allow you to filter your columns using User metrics. This means that you can filter your column to show Tweets by:

  • all users
  • users you follow
  • specific users
  • your own account
  • verified users (blue tick profiles)

You can also filter Tweets mentioning:

  • specific users
  • your own account

Content filters

Content filters are a bit more complex but still incredibly useful. There are more options - but in having these you have more opportunity to mine Twitter for exactly what you want. Filters include:

  • Showing:  show tweets containing ... (i.e. videos, images, links, Periscopes etc.)
  • Matching: specify words / phrases / #hashtags
  • Excluding: exclude specific words / phrases / #hashtags
  • Date range: specify a From and To date range
  • Written in: specify the languages the Tweets are in
  • Retweets: specify whether to include or exclude retweets

Other filters

There are a few other filter types you can make use of:

  • Location: specify a geographic location for Tweets to be coming from (very handy if you want to gather / monitor Tweets from your school's region and direct community)
  • Engagement: specify the number of retweets, likes and / or replies a Tweet has (this is an invaluable tool when mining for really engaging content to share)

Adding multiple Twitter accounts

Adding multiple Twitter accounts onto your TweetDeck is one of its most valuable features. As noted earlier, this makes monitoring and responding to whatever may be happening in your Twitter world so much easier. 

For schools that have more than one Twitter account, but struggle to keep on top of them, it becomes clear how helpful this can be. Adding a new account to your TweetDeck is very simple - click the Profiles icon in the bottom-left of the window (the silhouette of two people) to expand the Accounts column. 

At the bottom you will see a field with Join another team above it. Enter your @handle into this field and select from the drop-down menu. A new window will open asking you to Log In - enter the password to authorise and your account is now added. 

TweetDeck allows you to add up to 200 accounts - with one selected as the Default for your actions (e.g. sending Tweets or replying etc.). This does not mean that all actions will be made from this account - you can select which accounts using a drop-down menu - but it will be the first one in the list and the default if nothing else is selected.

Bringing it all together: columns, filters and multiple accounts

With these basic TweetDeck skills mastered TweetDeck really comes into its own as a powerful, efficient and incredibly useful tool. Knowing how to combine everything together will undoubtedly prove useful when you are monitoring Twitter - whether it is looking for engaging content or actively engaging with your community.

So, how can you use it in your school?

If like many schools now you are on Twitter you probably have a main school account.

But what about your head / principal? Do they have an account too - used for school purposes? How about your departments? Do your faculty use Twitter in your school to promote what they do in the classroom or to share content related to their speciality? What about if your school has different sections / year groups? Does the prep school have an account as well as the senior school?

Using or monitoring all of these different accounts in conjunction can be very difficult. But, by understanding the basic concepts of TweetDeck - i.e. columns and filters - you can take a huge weight of your shoulders. 

Masterclass

One good idea is to create a Twitter list of all the accounts you are monitoring - especially when these number into the 10's. This can be done through TweetDeck, making this process even easier.

Here's how:

  • Add a new column (+ symbol on left-hand side of TweetDeck desktop)
  • Select List from the choices
  • You can only select lists you have already created or that you are subscribed to
  • If you need to make a new list click the Create list button
  • Fill in fields - i.e. Name = School Accounts
  • Search for your accounts using the search field - if you have used a naming strategy for your Twitter accounts this will be very easy 👍
  • To add an account to the list simply click the + button
  • Add all accounts required then click Done (hint: if the Add column box is checked it will automatically add this list as a column onto your TweetDeck - nice)
  • Use the new List column to monitor all Tweets from your listed accounts in real-time
  • Sit back and marvel at your efficiency 

Recap

You can set up User columns to monitor each additional school-related account - enabling you view what they are Tweeting about in real-time.

If these same accounts are added to your TweetDeck - by being authorised via the log in page - you can also set up Notifications columns to view all their notifications as they come in. This gives you a fantastic method to stay engaged with your community - quickly replying, liking or retweeting where appropriate. 

If you want to monitor lots of school accounts all at once create a Twitter List - which can be done on TweetDeck. Then add a List column to view all listed accounts in real-time. Particularly useful if you have a high number of school accounts.

For school events you can set up Search columns to follow particular hashtags (e.g. #SchoolNameSportsDay). This gives you a live feed of all the chatter happening around that event.

The same can be done for large, world events - #WorldBookDay is coming up 😉.

When mining Twitter - a task unto itself in scope (did you know the average life cycle of a Tweet is less than 2o minutes) - you can use the filters to find more quality content. Perhaps you are looking for some great, engaging #edtech related Tweets?

Set up a Search column for #edtech and set the like or retweet filter to at least 50. The column will pull through only those Tweets that meet the set criteria - enabling you to quickly curate from the most engaging content.

As a final point it might be a good idea to share TweetDeck with a second monitor. This way you can divide your tasks more efficiently - one monitor to engage with your community by Tweeting and replying, and another monitor to focus solely on school chatter. 

 

We hope that you have enjoyed this guide for TweetDeck and feel ready to use this fantastic tool in your school's marketing process. If you have any comments about this article or any questions about TweetDeck please do comment below.

Best of luck Tweeters 🐦

Which social media should your departments use?

Does your school have a Twitter account or Facebook Page? If the answer is yes, that's great! The demands of modern times require modern solutions - social media is one answer to the ever-growing demands of school marketing.

But how far does your presence on social media go? How about a school YouTube account for sharing all your awesome video content? What about Instagram and Flickr - two places to host photos and images? No? What about SoundCloud for audio? Issuu for publications? Pinterest for inspiration?

All of these channels offer something new to your school's marketing - and should all be considered important tools to make use of.

Knowing how to use them is important - of course! But being able to see how they can fit into your school, which departments and subjects they can be applied to, and understanding that their limitations are often your own is essential if you want to ✨STAND OUT✨ with your marketing.

YouTube: the place for video!

Twitter and Facebook are both very capable of hosting video content, but there are significant limitations. Did you know, for example, that videos directly uploaded to Twitter cannot exceed 140 seconds?

YouTube is hands down that best place to primarily host all of your school's video content, before disseminating across your other platforms (as simple as sharing a URL). 

Which departments?

Performing arts: drama and music both have a very comfortable home on YouTube. In fact, YouTube is regarded as the top music streaming service - topping actual dedicated music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music! 

Make use of YouTube for school concerts and shows - it will be greatly appreciated by those parents who were unable to attend the live performance. 

Sports: Similarly, your sports departments can make great use of YouTube for the same reasons as above. Sports Day is a huge event for many schools so create a Playlist of all the events recorded that day. Parents will know which event their kid was in, and truly appreciate being able to watch them take part over and over.

What else?

Science: the amazing world of science is a YouTube favourite. Remember those experiments where your chemistry teacher burns a Jelly Baby to produce a spectacular display of flames? Share this with your community - it is fun to watch and good to know that's what the kids are getting to see first-hand. 

The Head: oh yes! Your Head is your champion and should be hitting those digital waves for your community to see. YouTube has many possible ways for your head to engage. How about a series of vlogs delivered by your head, or upload the recordings from live-stream Q&A sessions? 

And don't forget to set up PLAYLISTS. Take a look at how the British School of the Netherlands have organised their videos by using playlists.

Flickr & Instagram: photo galleries and filtered pics

In the same way YouTube is for video, Flickr and Instagram are awesome social tools for photos.

Flickr's strength lies in its detail to photography - offering unrivalled specs for image, a full suite of editing tools and a handy tagging system, which allows you to specify variables such as camera, lens, shutter speed, focal length and more.

For all of Flickr's detail to attention, Instagram's appeal is in its simplicity. The process of taking a picture on your phone, choosing a filter, writing a description and uploading to your profile can take less than 30 seconds.

Flickr can do everything that Instagram can, plus more. So why consider both? The answer is simple - Instagram is by far more popular with younger users and a more engaging platform for your community. 

Which departments?

Photography: the obvious answer is of course photography. For aspiring photographers Flickr is superior, combining on-the-go snapping (with Smart Phones) with a platform you can upload images en masse from your camera. Instagram however remains a favourite with teens and most likely your community.

Visual arts: sharing arty content is nice and easy with Flickr and Instagram. 

Sports: Sport is a visual game - videos and photos taken from games and events will always have greater impact over non-visual content.

Trips: in very much the same way as sports, your trips department will receive far more engagement if they post lots of pics from all the amazing places your pupils visit.  

What else?

You can use these channels effectively in any department really! Just remember: visual content is key - if you want to market your school effectively the simple reality is you will need some great images and videos. 

SoundCloud: the place for audio!

We've done video and we've done images. So what about an often understated (and arguably far more traditional) marketing tool - audio? SoundCloud is a social network that deals entirely in audio, making it yet another great tool for schools.

Which departments?

Music: no prizes for this one! All music departments should have a SoundCloud profile so they can share all the amazing things their pupils are doing. Whether they are solo performances, bands, choirs, ensembles, duets, quartets or orchestras - SoundCloud is a perfect social network to share these on.

What else?

We've seen some interesting subjects shared on SoundCloud.

Drama: can be an effective subject for SoundCloud - what level of expression can be put into a dramatic performance when the visual is removed? 

Modern Foreign Languages: being a subject that heavily involves speaking as part of its foundation, MFL is a great one for SoundCloud - particularly when it comes down to assessment work.

Media: check out Alleyn Court Prep School's SoundCloud page - they have been uploading their recordings taken from their pupil-run radio station. 

Pinterest: a channel for expression

Pinterest can be an odd one for schools to get grips with. In essence it is a platform for sharing and collaborating on pretty much anything visual. We consider Pinterest to be less marketing focussed but a super tool for teachers and pupils alike.

Users create boards - blank canvases that are populated with Pinned images. This can lead it to be a super teaching aid - allowing teachers to collect helpful material for teaching and pupils inspiration for learning.

Our past blog covers the creative arts on Pinterest - be sure to read it for more on Pinterest and its usefulness in the classroom.

Which departments?

Creative arts: Pinterest holds a special place in learning because of its ability to inspire. Whether it is Picasso-inspired works, minimalism, street art, architecture, clay moulding, airbrushing, hand painting, totem pole whittling, or whatever - Pinterest can offer new ideas to explore.

In fact, any subject can find inspiration on Pinterest! What about:

Design & Tech / Crafts: in very much the same vein as creative arts, Pinterest can inspire D&T lessons and the crafts. 

What else?

As a final point about Pinterest, why not make boards that promote your school? Collect images from sporting events, open days, the seasons as seen at your school, objects that are in your school colours and so on. The idea is to give a good visual representation of how you want your school to be seen and the spirit it entails. 

Issuu: paper-free publications

Issuu is for publications. It is a platform for files such as PDF's - allowing users to flick through pages with a click. More often than not, Issuu becomes a school's archive for all their newsletters. 

In using Issuu schools are cutting down costs by reducing the need to print on paper.

Users can categorise their content into Stacks. For example, you may have a Stack that collects all of your newsletters from 2017 or perhaps a Stack dedicated to annually released publications. 

Which departments?

Media: media is a typically good place to start. Does your school have a magazine - perhaps even a pupil run publication? Upload it to Issuu so you can effectively share it with the world.

English: school newsletters and magazines take the front-seat on Issuu, but there are some great ideas you can use it for. We've seen schools use Issuu to share digital copies of their pupil's literature - collecting poem, short stories, essays and writing into annual publications.  

What else?

Issuu can also be a good space to upload all the reports and policy documents that often get buried within your website. By creating a Stack or two you can share everything you need for inspections and the like, simply by sending a few URL's.

What about you?

As you can see there are various social channels to make effective use of in all walks of your school. By using these channels in creative ways you are reaching your community and beyond. 

Which channels do you departments use? How are your teachers and pupils using social media?

Let us know in the comments.

4 tips for using Facebook Live in your school

In five years, most of Facebook will be video.
— Mark Zuckerberg, 2014

It is likely by now that you have heard of and seen (or even used) Facebook Live, or another live-streaming network (e.g. Periscope). In our predictions for 2017 we saw live-streaming as being a major trend in 2017.

It would seem that Facebook agree as they push forward with a massive advertising campaign for Facebook Live. The war for live-streaming supremacy has begun in earnest.

With live-streaming likely to be a significant tool in your school's marketing shed, what steps should you take to make the most out of it?

1: Let people know when you're going live

IS.png

Obviously you will be wanting an audience when you decide to live-stream to the world. Even more obviously you want this audience to be made up of people from your own community!

Send parents an email or detail specific time and dates in your school's newsletter. Likewise, share these details across social media and engage with your community if they have any follow up questions. Many parents will not have used Facebook Live before so it is essential you know the basics, so they can join your broadcast issue free.

TIP: make this compelling to better entice your intended audience. You want your viewers to want to join your live-stream.   

2: Make sure you have good 4G or WiFi

Nothing will look worse than a live-stream riddled by lagging or cutting out 😱. Plan ahead and test your phone's 4G where you plan to broadcast. Better better still ensure you have a strong, stable WiFi connection.

3: Invest in a smartphone tripod / stand & battery pack

giphy (1).gif

Now your connection is stable it can't hurt to make the image stable! Investing in a tripod is the simplest way to ensure this.

There are various types of tripod you can look into but our recommendation, for its versatility, is something akin to the Joby GorillaPod. These tripods other more flexibility, over conventional ones, when you are out and about. We have one in the office and it is impressive how we can set it up pretty much anywhere. 

Likewise a battery pack / portable charger can be a real life-saver - imagine being 10 minutes into an awesome broadcast and your phone runs out of juice? Disaster! 

There are lots of great choices out there but our recommendation goes to the very tried and tested Anker range. Simply plug the packs in over night (usually via USB) and they are ready to go! When your phone is drying up, plug it into the battery pack in exactly the same way you'd put it on to charge normally.

4: Ask your viewers (parents) to subscribe to Live notifications

It's easy for your viewers to "subscribe" to your Live-streaming channel - just a simple tap / click of the Follow button when they are watching your broadcast.

Let your viewers be aware of this while you are live-streaming and they can choose to get notifications whenever you go live. This can also be done on the regular videos too (i.e. the saved recordings of your live-stream)  👍

And there you have it - 4 simple tips that can really up your live-streaming game. 👍

What else can you do?

  • As with most social media platforms you want engagement to be at the forefront of your mind. Something as simple as a a quick hello to your audience, as they join, or responding to their comments ensures that this engagement is being maintained. 
  • A broadcast shouldn't always be short and sweet. Facebook's own recommendation is that a live-stream should last at least 10 minutes. Of course, this won't always be the case but don't be afraid to keep going if you have something to share. On Facebook Live a single live-stream can last up to 60 minutes - plenty of time to share your #SchoolStories and engage with your audience. Statistics show people are up to 3 times more likely to watch a live-stream for longer periods vs. a regular, non-live video!
  • Remember: video content is king in 2017! Flex your creative muscles and live-stream often. Mix up what you do and how you do it to keep your audience coming back for more. 

 

We hope you enjoyed this article and are ready to live-stream to the world. We'd love to hear all about your thoughts and ideas. The potential for live-streaming in schools could be huge - so get out there and give it a go! 😎

Best of luck and have fun!!!

How do kids use social media? Let's understand it!

Make it a rule never to give a child a book you would not read yourself
— George Bernard Shaw

As we make headway into 2017, it will come as little surprise that social media usage continues to rise. At the end of last year, the total number of people on social media had exceeded 2 billion - with experts predicting it to move smoothly past 2.5 billion this year.

That is an incredible number - more than a 3rd of the world able to connect with one another!

But how many children are using social media? 

The Facts (13 - 17 year olds on social media) 

71% of teens using social media state they use more than one social media network. Out of these Facebook is the one used most often - with Instagram and Snapchat in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Statistics taken from Pew Research Centre

Statistics taken from Pew Research Centre

With such a high number of teens using social media, surely these networks have age limits and restrictions to ensure the safety of our children? 

The short answer is yes. Almost all social media networks have a minimum age restriction of 13 or above. However, the simple reality is: 75% of children aged 10 - 12 have a social media account.

So what are the age limits on the most popular social media websites? 

  • 13 Years Old: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, Reddit, Snapchat, Skype, Myspace, LinkedIn
  • 14 Years Old: LinkedIn (in USA)
  • 16 Years Old: WhatsApp
  • 18 Years Old: (or need adult permission): Kik, YouTube, Flickr, Xbox Live, Tinder

Some stats can make for a scary read above more worryingly the harsh reality is that...

THESE AGE RESTRICTIONS MEAN NOTHING!!!

If a child wants to sign up to social media, they will do. Facebook will not ask for proof of age.

Don't worry it's not time for a mass panic! It's just important to understand that children will be using social media and in instances they will be using it excessively.

So how do we educate children on social media? 

Educate Yourself

As parents there are plenty of things we won't understand about our children. Why are they wearing those clothes? Why are they singing that song?

As parents and role models it's important that as adults we understand social media. And to understand the behaviour around social media.

We could just read all of the bad stories about social media and go into a mass panic, urging children to keep away. I't just won't work. Children will use social media. You can't control it.

And if you can't control it, adapt to it.

People fear what they don’t understand and hate what they can’t conquer
— Andrew Smith

So how do you educate yourself on social media? 

  1. Create an account: "There are so many social media networks! Where do I start!?" Start easy. Try the biggest social networks, especially those popular with teens aged 13-17 (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat). 
  2. Seek help from an existing user: Social media channels are created to be simple. You will most likely manage alone but getting advice from an existing user during your first steps can be really beneficial to your understanding.  
  3. One step at a time: Do not grab a list of every social network and sign up today. It's important to get a proper grasp of one social channel at a time. Being enthusiastic is great but just be patient. 
  4. It's not a spying tool: Don't sign up to Facebook and immediately send a friend request to your son or daughter and their closest friends. Sign up to educate yourself on how to use social media. Try making your own circles and using it for your own entertainment. This will give you a proper working knowledge of the network. If you spook your child they will just move onto a new network which you don't understand. 
  5. Watch and learn: Ask actual teenagers how they use social media. Create an open and honest dialogue and observe how other teenagers communicate in a mobile and social world.
Because of their social position, what’s novel for teens is not the technology but the public life that it enables
— Danah Boyd

Educate Your Children 

Don't be fooled that you will ever know more than your children when it comes to social media! However, knowing enough to help support and guide them is all you need. Understanding each network and why children want to be on there allows you to have a deeper knowledge and give better advice.

If you stop children from being on Twitter or Facebook, they'll just move to WhatsApp or Instagram or SnapChat or...whichever app is taking the teen world by storm (this year it could be Monkey - chances are you've never even heard of this one?!!?) Give them the skills to make good decisions and to stay safe first and foremost.

The following are a few practical lessons to teach your children, and are arguably some of the most important lessons about social media. Everything on social is permanent and your social profile is an extension of yourself, so be cautious and sensible.

NOT BORING...BUT SENSIBLE 👍

1. Teach children that whatever they put online is permanent (this includes texting!) Private is not always private. The photo they post online is not owned by them anymore. It’s owned by Facebook, Instagram, and Google, etc… and they can do what they want with it (so can that bully who happens to be a friend of a friend on Facebook which gives them access to certain photos your child's posts).

2. Teach your child not to interact/follow people they don’t know in person. YouTube star Coby Person has made two fantastic, powerful videos conducting social experiments in which he messages teenagers using a fake profile. This is a real hard-hitting video which should be shown to all children to highlight the dangers of social media. 

3.  93% of managers check a candidate's social media profile. This stat is really important. If a child uploads anything which an employer would deem inappropriate, it could stop them from getting for their dream job or even going to their preferred University.

  • 55% of managers reconsider a candidate based on what they find on their social media channels
  • 44% of hiring managers see posts about alcohol as concerning
  • 83% see references about illegal drugs as a huge turn off
  • 26% of hiring managers check an applicant's Facebook page
  • 16% of hiring managers check an applicants Twitter page

What if a child asks you if they can sign up to social media?

Don't start with NO! If your child is one the few children who has asked you to sign up to social media before doing so. It's important to discuss with your child there reasons for wanting to sign up to social media. 

1. Why do you want an Instagram account? They’ll probably answer with something like “Because ALL my friends have one”

2. Which of your friends are on Instagram? Hopefully they will tell you. If not maybe they’re not ready to be on social media

3. Are these the only people you would be friends with on Instagram? This might be a good time to talk about only interacting with people they know in real life. Ask them "what would you do if a stranger added you?"

4. What do you know about Instagram? They may say something like “You talk to friends and share photos”

5. What kind of photos would you be sharing? Our guess is that they’ll say something like “I don’t know. Me and my friends.” This is a great time to talk about what types of photos are appropriate to share online and why

Our kids will be doing jobs that don’t even exist yet! Are we leading by example and preparing them?
— Simon Noakes, CEO & Founder, Interactive Schools

Tips for monitoring children's social media use

It's very likely that your children will know more about social media than you do. So how do you monitor your children's social media use without invading their privacy? 

1. Ask and discuss: The best approach to discussing social media with your child is to open up a line of communication with them without judgment or consequences. Ask them about how they use social media, what they like, what they dislike, and what they use it for. If they’re willing to share, it’s important to keep an open mind and not overreact or to let anxiety take over when they respond. If you want them to feel comfortable sharing with you, there has to be mutual respect and some room to experiment and grow.

2. Consider the benefits: Communicating on social media is how this generation makes friends, deals with problems, finds jobs, and learns about what’s going on in the world. There are limits to what should be experienced behind a screen and what should be done without the aid of technology, but there’s no better way to stay informed and communicate with others in an instant than through social media.

When teaching them, we need to focus on proper use and what’s appropriate and inappropriate. Teach them how to use social media effectively and educate yourself on how best to assist them. Encourage safe behaviours and habits, so they will be able to enjoy learning and sharing on social media, and make the communities they participate in a positive and enjoyable place for others.

3. Learn about the network: After learning about the sites and apps that they use, do your own research. Check the app or network’s about page, reviews, FAQ’s, and consider contacting them if you have unanswered questions.

4. No need for spyware: If you Google 'monitoring your children on social media', you will see results appear with fancy, expensive, spyware. All we can do is educate children to our best ability. We tell children that stealing is bad. We don't follow them around shops making sure they don't steal. We have to hope they understand what is right and what is wrong through what we have taught them.

5. Check privacy settings: Check that your privacy settings for the Internet and Facebook are set to the strictest levels. Depending on which browser you are using, you can adjust the settings directly from the options tab and adjust levels around cookies, third party sites and more. This not only protects the computer user, but also the computer from the threat of viruses. Checking your Facebook privacy settings is easy as well. Simply go to Facebook's policy page to ensure that you are up to speed on its privacy policy and make any changes you deem necessary.

Social media is NOT scary, nor is it bad. What scares people the most is that they don't understand it.

By understanding it, we give ourselves the deep understanding to give the best advice for our children.

We would love to hear any thought or comments your have below about staying safe on social media!