Teachable Moments: Snapchat

TeenBoyAndGirlWithCellPhoneBy now, many of you have heard about the popular app, Snapchat. Used by roughly 26 million people in the U.S., Snapchat allows its users to communicate via temporary photo and video sharing. After the 10-second viewing time expires, the shared photo or video “self-destructs,” never to be seen again. Or does it?

What You Need to Know

In addition to viewers’ ability to take a screenshot of the image, research shows that instead of being deleted, the photos are actually stored in a hidden file on the sender’s phone. In fact, photos taken on Snapchat may be easier to track than those taken with a basic camera phone.

The false promise of disappearing photos makes apps such as Snapchat a real concern for parents of tween and teenage children. The relatively new issue of sexting can have lasting consequences for kids who take or share sexually explicit images of themselves or their underage peers.

As parents, it can be difficult to keep up with each new technology and app as it becomes available. To protect your kids, talk to them about using technology responsibly. Then, keep the line of dialogue open. Make sure they understand that they can come to you if they’re unsure about a situation or if someone sends them a questionable photo or video.

What Your Kids Need To Know

  • There is no such thing as a disappearing photo or video. Even deleted images can be recovered.
  • Once a photo leaves their phone, they have no control over it. Even if they send it to someone they trust, there’s no guarantee that a friend or relative won’t see (and potentially forward) the image.
  • In many places, sexting images of underage kids is considered child pornography, even if they are shared between friends of the same age.
  • People who truly like them will not pressure them to send suggestive or unclothed photos of themselves.

Remember, knowledge is prevention!

 

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