With more and more teens fleeing Facebook for more “parent free” social zones, alternatives such as Snapchat have become popular connection tools.
Snapchat is a picture and video texting app that allows users to take photo snapshots (or “snaps”) and videos that the app will then make “vanish” after ten seconds. In essence, “snaps” replace written texts.
It’s fun. It’s creative. It’s cool. And, because the app deletes the content in 10 seconds, Snapchat claims to leave no digital trail. Pretty awesome, right? Sure, if #LOL goofy face photos and #SuperCute videos of kittens were the only content being exchanged.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Because of the app’s ability to delete the picture and videos seemingly forever, some teens have turned to Snapchat an easy way to sext without the risk of having a racy photo shared.
Apple has rated Snapchat 12+ for “Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content or Nudity, Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References, Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humor, Infrequent/Mild Mature/Suggestive Themes.”
So be on the lookout for the app on your kids’ phone (a yellow square with a ghost in it as seen here). If you find it, square your kids up and have the Snapchat safety conversation. Or delete the app altogether if you don’t think your kids can use it wisely.
Our suggestion to parents:
- Download the app and check it out. As always, this is the best way to start the conversation with your kids.
- Stress the privacy risk. Remind your kids that whenever they send anything over digital channels—regardless of an app developers promise—there’s always a privacy risk.
- Beware of screenshots. Remind your kids that friends can still take screenshots of content that is sent and that content can still go viral (senders will be alerted if a screenshot is taken but screenshots are not blocked).
- When in doubt—don’t. Reinforce guidelines of proper photos and videos. Remind your kids that the intended recipient of a “snap” may not be the only one looking at the photo.
As always, we recommend education and communication over deleting every app or social network that poses a risk. To reduce worry furuther, we suggest parents always go the extra step with the appropriate filtering software for PCs, Macs, and iPhones.