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Tech Trends: New Social Media Laws and Platforms

Tech Trends April 2023

Each month, Plugged In will release a blog with the latest technology and social media trends. We’ll let you know what changes to keep an eye out for. We’ll offer some tips about how to handle technology in your family. And of course, we’ll give you the scoop on those things called “hashtags” so you can stay up to date on all the things your kids might be obsessed with.

And ICYMI (“in case you missed it,” for those up on their social acronyms), you can check out March’s Tech Trends, too.

Social Media: A Possible Gateway to Pornography and Fentanyl

A new poll from Deseret News found that a majority of Utah parents (60%) favor limiting social media to those 16 and older. (And Utah lawmakers recently signed bills greatly restricting social media for kids and teens.)

This same poll revealed that even more parents are worried about their children finding content that is inappropriate online, with 63% concerned “a great deal” and 31% “a little.”

What’s ironic is that these problems are one and the same.

A study released by Common Sense Media earlier this year revealed that nearly four-in-10 kids came across pornography on popular social media sites. Experts are recognizing this, and some are clamoring for smartphones to be banned for children under 16. Schools reformer Katharine Birbalsingh (dubbed Great Britain’s strictest headteacher) says this: “We ban all sorts of things for under 16s: sex, cigarettes, alcohol, driving, even some films. Yet we make access to these and much worse via the smartphone so easy, done without parental knowledge.”

Pornography isn’t the only thing kids can find on social media. According to The Dallas Morning News, “about 130 DEA fentanyl trafficking investigations involved sales of the pills on social media platforms like Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and TikTok.”

These are a lot of worrisome headlines, but before you panic, here are some tips recommended by the San Diego Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force:

  • Have an informal conversation with your kids about their social media use.
  • Refrain from making judgments while listening and let them finish without interruption.
  • Tell your kids to beware of ads they see on social media.
  • Download parental control apps.
  • Ask your cellphone provider about parental controls that come with your plan.

Additionally, as Plugged In recommends, you could take steps to limit your child’s access to dangerous content by delaying when you give them a smartphone and not letting them take their devices to bed with them.

But most importantly, talk with your kids about the problem. The DEA recommends explaining to your kids how dangerous drugs like fentanyl can be. Plugged In’s Paul Asay encourages parents not to hide from the societal issue of pornography. Because even if your kids haven’t been exposed to inappropriate content, “chances are strong they know someone who has. Kids and teens talk about this sort of stuff, and it’s important that you be a part of their ongoing conversations.”

Spotify Live Has Died

Recently, Spotify (the popular music streaming app) launched a new app called Spotify Live. The hope was that Spotify fans would be able to stream and interact with live audio and podcasts.

Alas (for Spotify at least), this is no more. After debuting the app and experimenting with it, Spotify realized that … nobody really cared. At least not enough to download an entirely separate app to participate.

Spotify is still interested in adding “fan-creator interactions” in the future. And if you’re not familiar with the company, here’s what parents need to know about it and its subsidiary, Spotify Kids:

  • Spotify is free to download for everyone ages 13 and up. (Spotify Kids is a separate app created for kids age 12 and under.)
  • Spotify Kids contains “age-appropriate” songs, stories, podcasts and “soundtracks from appropriate films.”
  • While a Spotify Kids account will automatically filter out content labeled “Explicit”, the only way to add parental controls to either app is to pay for a Spotify Premium Family subscription.
  • Premium Family allows parents to guide and monitor the content consumed through Spotify by their older teens. Using this feature, they can add explicit content filters, age restrictions, see what songs and podcasts their children are listening to and even curate playlists for the whole family.

And, as always, we here at Plugged In encourage you to talk to your kids about what they’re listening to. Ask questions to help them think critically about what they’re consuming. And encourage discernment so they can make better choices for themselves about music and podcasts.

TikTok’s Little Sister Is Causing Family Drama

ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, is still fighting against a TikTok ban. But there’s another member of the ByteDance family that you should know about: Lemon8.

Lemon8 caters to a Gen Z audience and “features a mix of TikTok-like videos and Instagram-like photos.” Like TikTok, each user’s individual feed is based on their habits and who they follow. However, new users will find that much of the app’s current content leans into health and beauty trends aimed at a younger female audience.

Lemon8 has been downloaded 650,000 times in the past week-and-a-half, according to Axios. So it’s certainly a contender to become even more popular as TikTok’s fate is decided. And while ByteDance officials have stated their intent to comply with U.S. law, parents should always exercise caution before letting their children download yet another social media app.


Hashtags, trends, reels, sounds, tracks, stories—we know it feels impossible to keep up with what the kids are into these days. But here’s a quick overview of what your teen might be posting/watching on TikTok, Instagram and all the other “socials” this month.

  • “Happy With You” (190.6K posts) – This CapCut template is paired with text overlay to deliver a variety of messages.

  • “Marea (We’ve Lost Dancing)” (93.6K posts) – Travel influencers use this track by Fred Again and The Blessed Madonna to create montages.

  • “Mood” (75.6K posts) – This track by 24kGoldn helps users capture what they’ve been up to this month.

  • “West Coast” (45.3K posts) – Users try out different hairstyles to this track by Lana Del Rey.

  • “Closer” (24.7K posts) – Users show off a stunning vacation spot or city skyline set to the audio clip “Closer” by Nuages.

  • “Feel So Good” (22.5K posts) – This is a sped-up, remixed version of Mase’s “Feel So Good” used to highlight a special event.

  • “Succession” (13.7K posts) – Taking the main theme from the HBO show Succession, folks are showcasing penthouses and stunning views. And since most parents probably don’t want their teens watching the TV-MA rated show, it’s worth paying attention to.

  • “Oh No I’m Devastated” (12.2K posts) – This cheeky audio is used to laugh at something that’s meant to upset you but doesn’t. Parents may want to note the bullying potential with this particular trend.

  • “Are We Best Friends?” (7.3K posts) – If you have a best friend but aren’t sure if that person reciprocates the BFF feelings, you can use this track by dankojin to find out. And parents should be cautious since this could lead to some very upsetting conversations.

  • “Screaming, Crying, Throwing Up” (4.2K posts) – This track remixes Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” to make the lyrics sound like she’s singing “screaming, crying, throwing up.” And apparently, people are using it to display what they’re screaming about, crying about or … throwing up about.

  • “Bombastic Side Eye” (1.6K posts) – Using this up-and-coming audio, people showcase when something (or someone) gives them major “ick.” Parents, again, should be aware if their kids are using this in their videos or receiving it in videos sent to them since it has the potential to lead to bullying.
Emily Tsiao

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her husband indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.