Elternguide Logo

Twitter – Who’s tweeting here?

3 minutes reading time
11-17 years
Social Media
Tool description
Copyright: Thomas Trutschel/photothek.net

As one of the largest social networks, Twitter has been popular all over the world for about 10 years. The special feature is that very short texts with a maximum of 280 characters (so-called “tweets”) are posted. That’s why Twitter is sometimes called a short messaging service.

In a nutshell:

  • Dissemination of public, short tweets
  • use mainly adults
  • Use allowed from 13 years
  • Partly heated discussions and hate comments
  • Free in the browser and as an app for Android and iOS

What can Twitter do?

Twitter works similarly to Facebook or Instagram, for example: A profile is created with personal information that others can follow. However, many users simply follow the postings of others. Famous personalities like soccer players, influencers, politicians or even journalists have the most followers. Companies and brands are also represented on Twitter. Unregistered readers can see tweets, but cannot follow anyone directly.

Tweets often consist of text only and are hashtagged. A maximum of 280 characters, i.e. letters, numbers, punctuation marks and symbols, can be used in a tweet. But also pictures, video etc. can be sent and shared.

The special feature of Twitter is that the short statements of mostly well-known people lead to discussions outside of Twitter. US President Trump’s tweets are a good example of this. The “Retweet” function also plays a role here. Tweets are shared or referred to in a separate tweet. Discussions also often arise in the comments under the tweets. In addition, direct messages can be written via a chat.

What fascinates young people about it?

Twitter is used relatively little by young people compared to other social networks. If they do, they are often politically interested and committed young people. But popular stars and musicians are also on Twitter and post information about themselves.

The fascination around Twitter is on the one hand the discussions, in which it sometimes goes back and forth fiercely. On the other hand, some tweets are sent out quickly and spontaneously. Following the tweets at big events like soccer games or elections can be very exciting and funny because you get the reaction of the crowd. In addition, on Twitter you can find out what famous people or journalists think and mean.

What can be problematic about the offer?

Personal information and statements are freely available to all. Through hashtags, tweets that were actually intended for a small circle can suddenly be seen by very many users. Besides, there is a risk that some users with bad intentions will try to contact your child.

Some discussion on Twitter goes below the belt and racist or sexist tweets or comments are posted. In addition to hate comments, the spread of fake news can also be a problem.

What does the provider think?

According to the provider, Twitter may only be used from the age of 13. There is also the option to block users so that they can no longer make contact. Users can also report people who tweet problematic content, such as hate comments or insults. Twitter recently began actively deleting tweets, profile pictures or information with discriminatory content as soon as it was reported, according to its own information, and it blocks accounts.

What should parents pay attention to?

If your child is under 18, you must agree to register with Twitter. Make your child aware of how to report or block problematic content or users on Twitter if needed. With the option to protect your own tweets, they can only be seen by a selected circle. Explain to your child who may be able to see personal information and statements and what the consequences may be. Help your child understand and classify content on Twitter by talking to them about how discussions can get heated and what other risks there are.

Project partners