En español | As more and more older Americans embrace social media — the number of Facebook users ages 45 to 54 is up nearly 50 percent since the end of 2012, according to a study by market research firm GlobalWebIndex — there's a lot more to discover beyond Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. Here's a look at five popular social media sites and apps you should know about. As Michael J. Fox says in the film Back to the Future, even if you're not ready for it yet, "your kids are gonna love it.''
This microblogging site hosts more than 140 million blogs devoted to just about every subject. Catering to quick, quippy posts and images, tumblr content is somewhere between a long-form blog and a tweet. Users follow other tumblrs and can tailor the look of their own tumblr blog by choosing from dozens of design templates. A mobile app makes for easy, on-the-go posting. According to tumblr, the site hosts more than 82 million blog posts a day.
The photo- and video-sharing social media app takes the Facebook template — connecting with friends — and strips out everything except the images. Instagram allows users to find their inner Ansel Adams through dozens of enhancement and editing tools. You can edit and share 15-second video clips as well. As of September 2013, Instagram, which launched in the fall of 2010, attracted more than 150 million users each month. More than 16 billion photos have been shared via Instagram over its three-year existence, the company says.
This is another photo-sharing site. What sets Pinterest apart is its organizing strategy. Users "pin" photos of interest onto virtual pinboards, which they subdivide by topic. Remodeling a kitchen? Start a board to post design and architecture photos you unearth during your research, or search the site for relevant pinboards created by others. Users can follow each other and receive alerts when new pins are posted. The site's most popular categories are food and drink, DIY and crafts, women's apparel and travel. Pinterest says it has 70 million monthly users, 84 percent of whom are women.
The completely user-generated news and link aggregator has exploded in popularity over the last few years. Registered users — dubbed redditors — submit links, then vote them up or down, with the most popular stories appearing on the front page. Thousands of subreddits — smaller forums of specific interest — cover everything from world news to kittens. Beware: Those who wander too far astray can stumble into content they may find objectionable. Reddit's "Ask Me Anything" subreddits (AMA and IamA for short) host informal question-and-answer sessions between users and newsmakers. President Barack Obama participated in a reddit AMA during his 2012 presidential campaign, taking questions on subjects ranging from foreign and fiscal policy to basketball and beer.
Similar to Instagram but with a self-destruct button. It's designed for those who'd like to share a moment, but don't want to preserve it for posterity. Snapchat allows users to send photos to friends and groups. Once a recipient opens a photo message — called a "snap" — there is a preset time limit in which to view the image. After that time limit — anywhere from one to 10 seconds — expires, the photo vanishes from the recipient's device, and is also deleted from Snapchat's main servers. The app has sparked controversy among those who think its transient nature encourages "sexting," the sharing of sexually explicit photos, and because its user base skews young: It's most popular among those age 13 to 23, though its over-40 population is growing.
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Visit the AARP home page for travel discounts, tips and more