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Twitter App Guide (2023): What Parents, Educators, & Students Need to Know

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Twitter has more than 217 million daily active users and is one of the most popular social networks that promotes thought leadership and can have a positive impact on a student’s digital footprint (Source: Omnicore). 

When used correctly, Twitter can drastically improve your Google search results, position you as a thought leader in your desired industry, and improve your chances of getting into your dream school or career.

In this Twitter app guide, parents, educators, and students will learn 1) how to set up a Twitter account in a positive way, 2) what and how to post to your account, and 3) why it matters and how it impacts your digital footprint.

Educators and parents: Start a discussion with your students about this topic using the SmartSocial worksheet!

Click here to access the Google Doc worksheet

(Log in to your Google account to "Make a Copy" of this document to edit and save.)

Student, parent, & educator training video

(This student-friendly video can be shown in the classroom or at home)

(Click on the three lines or a blue dot in video progress bar to skip to a chapter)

  1. Why should students use Twitter?
  2. How colleges/employers will search for you
  3. Tips to improve Google search results
  4. What should you post on Twitter?
  5. How to limit Direct Messages
  6. Privacy setting recommendations
  7. How to turn off notifications

What is Twitter?

  • Twitter is an online social network, which allows users to post messages or micro-blogs (called Tweets) up to 280 characters in length
  • Tweets can include up to four photos, videos, and links to other websites
  • Those posts can become available to all Twitter users around the world in a matter of seconds
  • Other users can “Favorite” and “Retweet” the post if they like it. In this case, the tweet goes far beyond the original user’s followers
  • Most Twitter accounts are set to public, although there is a setting to make it a private account
  • Posts can be deleted, although Twitter is currently testing an edit button (Source: Twitter)
“Twitter is a service for friends, family, and coworkers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent messages.” Twitter

What is Twitter rated and where is it available?

Twitter logo

Apple App Store Rating: 17+

Google Play Store Rating: Mature 17+

Owned by Twitter, Inc

Privacy Policy

Terms of Service

Examples of Twitter dangers in the news 

online communities of adolescents and young adults celebrating, glorifying, and encouraging self-harm and suicide are growing rapidly on Twitter
In October 2021, Twitter was alerted to the presence of the hashtag “#shtwt” (short for SelfHarm TWiTter), and that their algorithms were pushing those searching the terms “self-harm” to profiles in this community promoting self-harm rather than profiles connected to finding help. Since then, despite Twitter having claimed it would take action against tweets that violate their rules on suicide and self-harm, the use of related hashtags has seen exponential growth, and mentions of shtwt are up 500%. - Network Contagion Research Institute

Why do students want to use Twitter?

  • To find out information about current events and news stories and follow political figures
  • Students are known to "tweet" random thoughts when they are bored at school or at home
  • They like it when they gain “retweets” and their message is marked as “favorite” by their followers when they tweet silly messages, jokes, photos, and videos
  • Users follow their favorite celebrities and popular Twitter accounts to stay "in touch" with pop culture
  • Teens are using #hashtags to hide the meaning of their messages from those who don't understand the hashtag code. Students may not realize that every word is searchable on Twitter (whereas on Instagram a message is only searchable based on the hashtags it contains)

Why should parents & educators care?

  • The minimum age to sign up for a  Twitter account  is 13 and there are zero parental controls
  • Twitter is free to use and students can access the Twitter website without ever setting up an account or logging in
  • Tweets are always visible and can spread in a matter of seconds
  • To find your students on Twitter, you need to know their @usernames (not all teens are using their real names)
  • Students are using Direct Messages (DMs) to talk privately to each other
  • Anyone can contact your student publicly. Your student must follow a fellow Twitter user to receive a direct message but there is a setting that can be turned on that allows anyone to send private messages
  • Some teens use Twitter to bully other teens (by tagging their @names)
  • Students sometimes freely share personal information, without knowing that it can all be searched
  • As with other social media platforms, scrolling through one's own Twitter feed can waste a lot of time and be a distraction
Image from Twitter Advanced Search

Interesting tools that search and view Tweets around the word

One Million Tweet Map - Location map and search engine that allows users to search the world for tweets from public accounts by keywords, hashtags, usernames, and or location

Advanced Search - Search function built into Twitter to search and filter Tweets by keywords, phrases, accounts, dates, and more

What can parents & educators do?

  • Download the Twitter app and create an account to try it  for yourself. Ask your student to teach you how to use it
  • Follow your student, but don’t reply or retweet their tweets (unless they want you to)
  • Check your student’s Tweets and Twitter followers periodically to know more about what’s going on in their lives (and talk to them about it in real life)
  • Suggest your students turn on the “Protect your Tweets” setting to make it a private account 
  • Explain that if they don’t want you (their parent, teacher, or another adult) to see certain messages or photos, maybe it shouldn't be posted at all
  • Make sure your student knows how to report inappropriate and offensive content through the Twitter app and website
  • Remind students to never meet someone they meet on Twitter in real life
  • Encourage students to turn off, or limit Twitter push notifications.  With more than 500 million Tweets sent per day, students may find Twitter a distraction
  • Create a family media agreement to set ground rules for what students should share on apps like Twitter and when and how much time is appropriate. Use the screen time reports on your student’s device to review how much time they spend on Twitter or other social media platforms in an average day

Access the SmartSocial Family Media Dialogue Guide & Agreement Templates here

Settings and privacy recommendations for Twitter

Limit who can send message requests

  • Inside the Twitter app, tap on the profile photo icon in the top left hand corner
  • Scroll down to “Settings and privacy”
  • Tap “Privacy and safety”
  • Tap “Direct messages”
  • Turn off “Allow message requests from everyone”

Protect your Tweets

  • Under the “Privacy and safety” menu, tap “Audience and tagging”
  • Turn on “Protect your Tweets”
  • This will only show your Tweets to your followers.  If selected, you will need to approve each new follower
  • Also, consider turning off “Photo tagging”

Adjust notifications settings

  • To personalize your Twitter notifications, open the “Settings” menu in the Twitter app
  • Tap “Notifications”
  • Tap “Preferences”
  • Adjust “Push notifications”, “SMS notifications”, and “Email notifications”

Key terms/slang about Twitter

  • RT - Retweet - Sharing someone else’s Tweet on  your own Twitter page  so that your followers can see it
  • MT - Modified Tweet - Copying and pasting someone else’s Tweet and adding your own comment, but adjusting the original Tweet to make it fit into the allowed character count
  • # - Hashtag - A way to tag content that you Tweet and an easy way to search and follow trending topics on Twitter
  • Period before someone’s @ name - Adding a period before someone’s name at the beginning of a tweet allows your followers to be able to see and comment on that Tweet, as opposed to only those who follow both you and the person you are Tweeting 
  • Twitter Blue - A monthly paid subscription that allows users to access exclusive features
  • DM - Direct Message - Private messages can be sent directly between users
  • Larry - The name of the Twitter bird is based off basket ball player, Larry Bird
  • Twitter Bots (Zombies) - Automated, fake Twitter accounts that spread misinformation and malware

What can students do?

How colleges search for applicants on Twitter (and what they want to find)

  • Colleges want to discover students who are positive and full of gratitude
  • Colleges and employers should be able to find you somewhere online. If they find other people, they will be confused
  • Colleges want to see who you are off campus and ensure that you will represent their organization in a positive way
  • Colleges, internships, and employers are going to want to ask for your social media account information, so they can check. It’s better to be upfront and show that you have nothing to hide

The top 7 ways that colleges will search for you online

  1. First Name + Last Name
  2. “First Name + Last Name” (in quotes)
  3. “First + Last” + City
  4. “First + Last” + School
  5. First, Middle, and Last Name
  6. Social Media Usernames
  7. Image Results

How to improve your search results with Twitter

  • Use your real name. Example: Josh Ochs
  • Choose a good username. Example: @JoshOchs
  • Link to your other social profiles/your personal url. Example: https://JoshOchs.com

Branding in a positive way for your college or career

  • Write a clear bio
  • Post a good clear photo of you in your profile picture. Use this photo as your profile picture across all of your other social media accounts

What should you post on Twitter?

  • “Think before you Tweet” - Before retweeting a controversial post or responding to an online bully, think about how that Tweet will be perceived in the future by those whose opinions matter such as college admissions or potential employers
  • Tweet information and photos of your volunteer work, school and sports activities, academic rigor, part-time job, summer internship, and visits to college campuses
  • Keep your content focused on facts, personal interests, and accomplishments
  • Avoid Tweeting about controversial topics, inappropriate content, and negative behavior
  • Engage with authors, colleges, and other accounts in your area of interest in a meaningful way

Conclusion

Social media is an everyday part of the lives of high school students.  Twitter can be a great space for students to positively impact their digital footprint as they prepare for college and their dream job.

More resources for parents, students, & educators

Tumblr is often an alternative to Twitter that is popular with Gen Z. Read more about this microblogging site in our Tumblr App Guide

Learn how to create an online portfolio with the Student Branding Academy

4 Social Media Tips from a College Student

Learn more about Instagram's Twitter competitor, Threads with our Threads App Guide

With so many resources available and so many people wanting to help, suicide can be prevented. Check on your friends and family members often and let them know you’re there for them. Let’s work towards getting rid of the stigma of talking about mental health. 

If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call or text the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or call 911 immediately. If you’re uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can also text HOME to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line.

Twitter has more than 217 million daily active users and is one of the most popular social networks that promotes thought leadership and can have a positive impact on a student’s digital footprint (Source: Omnicore). 

When used correctly, Twitter can drastically improve your Google search results, position you as a thought leader in your desired industry, and improve your chances of getting into your dream school or career.

In this Twitter app guide, parents, educators, and students will learn 1) how to set up a Twitter account in a positive way, 2) what and how to post to your account, and 3) why it matters and how it impacts your digital footprint.

Educators and parents: Start a discussion with your students about this topic using the SmartSocial worksheet!

Click here to access the Google Doc worksheet

(Log in to your Google account to "Make a Copy" of this document to edit and save.)

Student, parent, & educator training video

(This student-friendly video can be shown in the classroom or at home)

(Click on the three lines or a blue dot in video progress bar to skip to a chapter)

  1. Why should students use Twitter?
  2. How colleges/employers will search for you
  3. Tips to improve Google search results
  4. What should you post on Twitter?
  5. How to limit Direct Messages
  6. Privacy setting recommendations
  7. How to turn off notifications

What is Twitter?

  • Twitter is an online social network, which allows users to post messages or micro-blogs (called Tweets) up to 280 characters in length
  • Tweets can include up to four photos, videos, and links to other websites
  • Those posts can become available to all Twitter users around the world in a matter of seconds
  • Other users can “Favorite” and “Retweet” the post if they like it. In this case, the tweet goes far beyond the original user’s followers
  • Most Twitter accounts are set to public, although there is a setting to make it a private account
  • Posts can be deleted, although Twitter is currently testing an edit button (Source: Twitter)
“Twitter is a service for friends, family, and coworkers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent messages.” Twitter

What is Twitter rated and where is it available?

Twitter logo

Apple App Store Rating: 17+

Google Play Store Rating: Mature 17+

Owned by Twitter, Inc

Privacy Policy

Terms of Service

Examples of Twitter dangers in the news 

online communities of adolescents and young adults celebrating, glorifying, and encouraging self-harm and suicide are growing rapidly on Twitter
In October 2021, Twitter was alerted to the presence of the hashtag “#shtwt” (short for SelfHarm TWiTter), and that their algorithms were pushing those searching the terms “self-harm” to profiles in this community promoting self-harm rather than profiles connected to finding help. Since then, despite Twitter having claimed it would take action against tweets that violate their rules on suicide and self-harm, the use of related hashtags has seen exponential growth, and mentions of shtwt are up 500%. - Network Contagion Research Institute

Why do students want to use Twitter?

  • To find out information about current events and news stories and follow political figures
  • Students are known to "tweet" random thoughts when they are bored at school or at home
  • They like it when they gain “retweets” and their message is marked as “favorite” by their followers when they tweet silly messages, jokes, photos, and videos
  • Users follow their favorite celebrities and popular Twitter accounts to stay "in touch" with pop culture
  • Teens are using #hashtags to hide the meaning of their messages from those who don't understand the hashtag code. Students may not realize that every word is searchable on Twitter (whereas on Instagram a message is only searchable based on the hashtags it contains)

Why should parents & educators care?

  • The minimum age to sign up for a  Twitter account  is 13 and there are zero parental controls
  • Twitter is free to use and students can access the Twitter website without ever setting up an account or logging in
  • Tweets are always visible and can spread in a matter of seconds
  • To find your students on Twitter, you need to know their @usernames (not all teens are using their real names)
  • Students are using Direct Messages (DMs) to talk privately to each other
  • Anyone can contact your student publicly. Your student must follow a fellow Twitter user to receive a direct message but there is a setting that can be turned on that allows anyone to send private messages
  • Some teens use Twitter to bully other teens (by tagging their @names)
  • Students sometimes freely share personal information, without knowing that it can all be searched
  • As with other social media platforms, scrolling through one's own Twitter feed can waste a lot of time and be a distraction
Image from Twitter Advanced Search

Interesting tools that search and view Tweets around the word

One Million Tweet Map - Location map and search engine that allows users to search the world for tweets from public accounts by keywords, hashtags, usernames, and or location

Advanced Search - Search function built into Twitter to search and filter Tweets by keywords, phrases, accounts, dates, and more

What can parents & educators do?

  • Download the Twitter app and create an account to try it  for yourself. Ask your student to teach you how to use it
  • Follow your student, but don’t reply or retweet their tweets (unless they want you to)
  • Check your student’s Tweets and Twitter followers periodically to know more about what’s going on in their lives (and talk to them about it in real life)
  • Suggest your students turn on the “Protect your Tweets” setting to make it a private account 
  • Explain that if they don’t want you (their parent, teacher, or another adult) to see certain messages or photos, maybe it shouldn't be posted at all
  • Make sure your student knows how to report inappropriate and offensive content through the Twitter app and website
  • Remind students to never meet someone they meet on Twitter in real life
  • Encourage students to turn off, or limit Twitter push notifications.  With more than 500 million Tweets sent per day, students may find Twitter a distraction
  • Create a family media agreement to set ground rules for what students should share on apps like Twitter and when and how much time is appropriate. Use the screen time reports on your student’s device to review how much time they spend on Twitter or other social media platforms in an average day

Access the SmartSocial Family Media Dialogue Guide & Agreement Templates here

Settings and privacy recommendations for Twitter

Limit who can send message requests

  • Inside the Twitter app, tap on the profile photo icon in the top left hand corner
  • Scroll down to “Settings and privacy”
  • Tap “Privacy and safety”
  • Tap “Direct messages”
  • Turn off “Allow message requests from everyone”

Protect your Tweets

  • Under the “Privacy and safety” menu, tap “Audience and tagging”
  • Turn on “Protect your Tweets”
  • This will only show your Tweets to your followers.  If selected, you will need to approve each new follower
  • Also, consider turning off “Photo tagging”

Adjust notifications settings

  • To personalize your Twitter notifications, open the “Settings” menu in the Twitter app
  • Tap “Notifications”
  • Tap “Preferences”
  • Adjust “Push notifications”, “SMS notifications”, and “Email notifications”

Key terms/slang about Twitter

  • RT - Retweet - Sharing someone else’s Tweet on  your own Twitter page  so that your followers can see it
  • MT - Modified Tweet - Copying and pasting someone else’s Tweet and adding your own comment, but adjusting the original Tweet to make it fit into the allowed character count
  • # - Hashtag - A way to tag content that you Tweet and an easy way to search and follow trending topics on Twitter
  • Period before someone’s @ name - Adding a period before someone’s name at the beginning of a tweet allows your followers to be able to see and comment on that Tweet, as opposed to only those who follow both you and the person you are Tweeting 
  • Twitter Blue - A monthly paid subscription that allows users to access exclusive features
  • DM - Direct Message - Private messages can be sent directly between users
  • Larry - The name of the Twitter bird is based off basket ball player, Larry Bird
  • Twitter Bots (Zombies) - Automated, fake Twitter accounts that spread misinformation and malware

What can students do?

How colleges search for applicants on Twitter (and what they want to find)

  • Colleges want to discover students who are positive and full of gratitude
  • Colleges and employers should be able to find you somewhere online. If they find other people, they will be confused
  • Colleges want to see who you are off campus and ensure that you will represent their organization in a positive way
  • Colleges, internships, and employers are going to want to ask for your social media account information, so they can check. It’s better to be upfront and show that you have nothing to hide

The top 7 ways that colleges will search for you online

  1. First Name + Last Name
  2. “First Name + Last Name” (in quotes)
  3. “First + Last” + City
  4. “First + Last” + School
  5. First, Middle, and Last Name
  6. Social Media Usernames
  7. Image Results

How to improve your search results with Twitter

  • Use your real name. Example: Josh Ochs
  • Choose a good username. Example: @JoshOchs
  • Link to your other social profiles/your personal url. Example: https://JoshOchs.com

Branding in a positive way for your college or career

  • Write a clear bio
  • Post a good clear photo of you in your profile picture. Use this photo as your profile picture across all of your other social media accounts

What should you post on Twitter?

  • “Think before you Tweet” - Before retweeting a controversial post or responding to an online bully, think about how that Tweet will be perceived in the future by those whose opinions matter such as college admissions or potential employers
  • Tweet information and photos of your volunteer work, school and sports activities, academic rigor, part-time job, summer internship, and visits to college campuses
  • Keep your content focused on facts, personal interests, and accomplishments
  • Avoid Tweeting about controversial topics, inappropriate content, and negative behavior
  • Engage with authors, colleges, and other accounts in your area of interest in a meaningful way

Conclusion

Social media is an everyday part of the lives of high school students.  Twitter can be a great space for students to positively impact their digital footprint as they prepare for college and their dream job.

More resources for parents, students, & educators

Tumblr is often an alternative to Twitter that is popular with Gen Z. Read more about this microblogging site in our Tumblr App Guide

Learn how to create an online portfolio with the Student Branding Academy

4 Social Media Tips from a College Student

Learn more about Instagram's Twitter competitor, Threads with our Threads App Guide

With so many resources available and so many people wanting to help, suicide can be prevented. Check on your friends and family members often and let them know you’re there for them. Let’s work towards getting rid of the stigma of talking about mental health. 

If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call or text the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or call 911 immediately. If you’re uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can also text HOME to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line.

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Superintendents, Directors and Principals: Request a partnership on this page to unlock our resources for your whole community.

This Twitter app guide will help parents learn

  • Why students should be using Twitter
  • How can parents help their students use Twitter safely
  • Tips for students on how to use Twitter to “Shine Online”

Learn why parents and educators should care about Twitter and how students can use Twitter to create a positive online reputation

Log in or join the VIP membership today to view all SmartSocial.com resources about Twitter!

Become a member or log in to learn more on this topic

Superintendents, Directors and Principals: Request a partnership on this page to unlock our resources for your whole community.
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This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!

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Parent VIP Member

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Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.

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This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.

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Educator Webinar Attendee

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