Snapchat is a fun and easy-to-use mobile app but it could also be dangerous if used improperly.

Social media continues its digital revolution with Snapchat. A message-based app that allows tweens and teens to share “silly moments” with their friends. It’s now at the forefront of social networking and digital communication, with over 150 million active daily users. Snapchat has become the most popular app among teens.

However, apps like Snapchat can also be dangerous in the hands of an inexperienced teen. Twenty percent of teens using Snapchat admitted that they received sexts from friends. Also, it could be used by online predators to find their next victim. There are several websites and blogs which publish leaked Snapchat images to the public, and these could destroy a person’s online reputation.

Since teens still need guidance, here is what parents need to know about Snapchat.

Why do teens love using Snapchat?

Created by Stanford University students in 2011, their goal was to create a message-based app which gives its users a platform to express themselves without the guilt. Snapchat allows its users to send videos or photos accompanied by a short text message. It can be viewed for a limited time which disappears after viewing it. New features such as Video Replays and Snapchat Stories were added to make a user’s experience more engaging. Around 60 percent of teens are Snapchat users. Both tweens and teens love Snapchat’s spontaneity.

What are the risks when using Snapchat?

Like all social media apps, Snapchat also has its own set of risks. Under its “Terms of Use”: users must be at least 13 years old before creating an account. Minors need parental permission before they can sign up. Once a user creates an account, it allows the app to access a mobile device’s address book which is uploaded to its servers. Also, Snaps (photos or videos) taken via Snapchat won’t “disappear” forever. A user can take a screenshot and save it to their mobile device. These can be used as cyberbullying fodder against a teen in the future. Sexting is also a major concern for Snapchat users.

What parents need to know about Snapchat?
  1. It gives teens a false sense of security. Once a Snap has been sent online, it can be saved and stored anytime.
  2. Any image or video sent via the app is royalty-free and it can be used by the company. Read more about its “Terms of Use“.
  3. Anything we post online becomes public. Even the most cautious teen can be a victim of identity theft or cyberbullying. Online anonymity is false and it is only perceived anonymity.
  4. The images are not saved in the phone’s image folder where they could be discovered by a parent.
  5. Teens will always be a step ahead when it comes to technology. Parents need to change their digital parenting strategies to better understand their teens. Supervising a teen can be difficult but discussing their online lives is a good step. Teens can teach their parents about new technologies while parents can teach them how to be better online citizens. Once parents earned their teens’ trust, they can make smarter decisions.

 

Knowledge and engagement are keys in educating our children about digital citizenship. Snapchat is here to stay and if the going gets tough, you can always rely on MomSecure’s cyber agents to help you protect your child’s innocence.

Related article: A Parent’s Guide to Social Media

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