As for our job as parents, it’s important to keep the lines of communication with your kids as open as possible and work together to figure out what’s appropriate for them, in terms of safety, privacy, reputation and time management. It generally just works better to talk with our kids about their favorite tools—with genuine interest, not fear—because they’re it's likely they will come to you when they need guidance and you’re much more likely to be kept in the loop about all the cool technology they use and you get to learn about. You don't want to scare them into not using technology. However, you need to keep them informed.
One of the platforms your child might be using is Snapchat. Snapchat is a photo- and video-sharing app with a twist. The media you send disappear seconds after they’re viewed—you get to decide how long a photo will “live,” from 1 to 10 seconds, after it’s viewed. Users love the spontaneity of that—it feels like socializing that’s (digital) footprint-free—but, as we’ll cover in this guide, there are ways to capture and recover images, so no one should develop a false sense of “security” about that. Snapchat runs on the Apple iPhone and Android phones but it also runs on iPad, Android tablets and iPod Touch, which are often used by very young children. It was developed as an antidote to “traditional” social networking services, where images can stay around forever, and people have to worry about self-presentation and reputations. Snapchat users feel like they don’t have to worry if they’re having a bad hair day or just want to make a silly face.
Whether or not you see the benefits of Snapchat let’s take a minute to talk about some of the things you need to be aware of. Help keep your teen or pre-teen safe online!
- Establish an online reputation boundary for photo’s and videos.
- Stay clear of any cyber bullies and don’t be one.
- Keep the content, fun and positive.
- Don’t post content that your mother, grandmother or other people you respect would be proud of.
We know what you’re thinking, not my child. Sexting? The truth is that some kids are sexting, or sending sexually explicit photos, thinking they have nothing to worry about because the photos disappear from the app. Meanwhile, other kids are snapping shots in locker rooms and bathrooms and sending those. Meanwhile, other kids are sneaking around trying to catch embarrassing shots of others to send on to someone else. Still others are using it to cyberbully. They send something mean and then the message disappears without any evidence that the bullying took place. The general thinking is, “what’s the harm – the picture is gone in 10 seconds.” But that’s not always the case. While the images do disappear from the app itself, there’s nothing built into the app to stop kids on the receiving end from taking a screenshot and saving it or using another device to take a picture of their cell phone screen. There are even some “hacks” that utilize the phone’s screenshot capabilities and the multitasking bar. And in some instances, these screenshots can be taken secretly without the sender finding out.
Parents also should teach their kids digital etiquette as well as remind them to think before they post. Kids should always ask themselves if what they are posting or saying is something they would want their parents, their teacher, their religious leader, their grandparents or their coach to see.
Click to fill out the form for a complimentary Pre-Teen/Teen Safety Contract to start the conversation and establish boundaries with your child. We will send you monthly emails about issues you need to be aware of.