One of the most frequently requested topics for Parent Tip Tuesday is Snapchat. Parents want to know what the app is, what it does and what can they do to protect their children and teens from the dangerous side of the app.
Snapchat is a messaging app that is used to send pictures and video messages. You can edit pictures to add captions and fun filters that can turn you into a puppy or other fun graphics. What makes Snapchat unique and popular among teens is the fact that messages self-destruct after they have been received. The sender can choose between 1-10 seconds before the photo disappears after it has been opened. Teens are aware that parents are monitoring what they do on social media. They are constantly looking for a way around parental oversight and monitoring sights. Snapchat checks that box for teens.
Snapchat provides a false sense of security that a photo it won’t end up on the internet. This makes it more tempting for teens to use Snapchat for sexting. Snapchat itself has admitted that up to 25 percent of users may send sensitive content on a regular basis. Whether it’s sending or receiving sexually explicit images, it’s important your teen knows what they are really doing…distributing child pornography.
Bullies have also found Snapchat to be a great tool to target their victims. If a message is going to disappear in only a few seconds, it makes it tougher for children to report the behavior to adults. Children are much more likely to seek help when they think adults will believe them and listen to them. In addition, you aren’t able to see the snaps that came in if your child is the victim of bullying.
As mentioned above, a false sense of security is a major issue for teens on Snapchat. They believe what they are sending is gone before anyone besides the intended recipient sees it. This simply isn’t the case. An individual can quickly grab a screenshot of the message that was sent. However, there are other ways to save the images and videos. An individual could use a second device to record the picture or video as it comes in and the sender wouldn’t know. This could also be a way parents could record unwanted pictures and videos.
As kids continue to explore new ways to communicate with their friends Snapchat has become one of the most popular among teens. According to a Piper Jaffrey 2019 study, 45% of teens surveyed said Snapchat was their favorite social media site. That makes it even tougher to follow our recommendation…don’t allow your child on Snapchat. The greatest asset of Snapchat for many teens is its ability to hide the content of communication. As outlined above, Snapchat is an open avenue for abuse from others to your teen and you can’t monitor it.
If you allow your teen to use Snapchat there are a few things you can do to make it safer. The first step is a conversation about the topics covered above. It’s important to talk with your children about the permanence of the internet and Snapchat is no different. It is important to make them understand that Snapchat isn’t as secure as they think. Explain to them the importance of only adding people you know in real life so your child can be sure they are who they say they are.
Another important step is to change the settings inside the app. Don’t allow Snapchat to use location services to identify the users location. This has been a tool used by criminals to target strangers they have met on the social media site. Users can also control who can send them photos through settings; my friends or everyone. When setting it to friends, it keeps random people from viewing your child’s profile or sending them inappropriate photos. Finally, if you suspect a contact on Snapchat is negatively impacting your teen, you can block them. While your teen will still be able to see their information and posts, it blocks your child’s information and posts from the individual.
Snapchat is certainly one of the scariest apps for parents. Take the time to have conversations with your child about the dangers and what’s going on in their life. If there is an open line of communication and they know that you understand the technology it increases their chances of talking to you about a potential issue.
If there are any topics you would like to see in upcoming Parent Tip Tuesdays please share them in the comments below.