As Youth Month flexes its muscles in June, we take a closer look at what is setting our youngsters abuzz in their world of social interaction and networking.

In the world of app development, it seems the most popular texting apps include; Kik messenger or otherwise just Kik, Ebuddy, Meetup and Kik is a Canadian mobile messaging app available free of charge on iOS and Android. It is said to be maintaining users despite its history of negative publicity due to several incriminating cases where pedophiles were caught using this application. Enabled by data or Wi-Fi on a smart phone, one may access photo’s, video’s, messages and other content. To gain access, one is required to register a username without entering a phone number. It requires a birth date as a field of entry in order to establish whether the user is at least 13 years or older. Kik now offers a free Crises Text Line for youngsters in need of mental or emotional support, and is injecting $10 million dollars into safety initiatives upheld by its new Safety board compliance regulations. Alternatives to KiK include WhatsApp, Wechat, and LINE. Groupme is another free service which currently uses US based phone numbers.
Tumblr is another widely used interactive social app, used as a micro-blogging platform. It has gained popularity amongst entrepreneurs and small business owners. Tumblr was created by David Karp in 2007 to allow users to post and share their multi-media content. It combines the features of Twitter and writing a blog simultaneously. Users create short blogs to accompany images that can be seen by anyone online, unless they aren’t made public. Tumblr has a plethora of gifs available, an updated camera, allowing one to create photo sets from within the app. Postings are known as ‘tumblogs’ and as of April of this year, Tumblr hosts over 406,9 million blogs, but is also subject to explicit images and therefore parental scrutiny.

As for music fans, in March of this year we experienced a huge step up in music availability with the launch of Spotify in South Africa. This service essentially offers a higher quality of music to be streamed at lower data costs. Developed by a Swedish entertainment company, Spotify allows users to share and edit playlists or tracks with other users on social media and has access to over 35 million songs. It reached 170 million active users by May of this year. Spotify pays a portion of its listed artists royalties, based on the number of streams per artist, instead of flat rates paid per song or album, to individual artists like other platforms.

Another funky youth app known as similar to the Vine app, allows kids to watch, create and share interactive videos of their own invention, gloriously backed by their favourite current soundtrack, right from the convenience of their own phone. It has a whopping 100 million users and its ‘star wannabee’ users enjoy making popular lip-syncing videos to entertain themselves, their friends and growing potential followers, with regular likes and comments that YouTube provides.

For youngsters keen on the design world, Dribble as a platform allows users to view, vote for and share global designs, with 3D touch and split screen viewing support.
Bear in mind, that with any creative freedom enjoyed and the growing social networking platforms, parents are advised to keep communication channels with their children open and to know which applications their children are participating in. Some seemingly simple apps still cannot regulate screen shots from individual smart phones when a platform is already open.

Check out this useful Common Sense app for parents with safety tips, discussion groups, articles from parents and kids, reviews and handy updates for underage networking do’s and don’t. You can download it now for free on iTunes.