Talking to your kids about the Snapchat App. A.K.A. "The Sexting App." (Eek.)
This morning, our editor Liz Gumbinner talked to the TODAY Show about the pitfalls of SnapChat
, the most popular app you've probably never heard of. But you should. Especially if you're the parent of a teen.
Also known as the "sexting app," this popular app (more downloads than even Instagram!) allows the user--with
an average age of 13-24--to send a photo with text or a drawing over it
to a contact, then set the photo to self-destruct in 10 seconds or less.
The problems? Well, the promise of photos with no evidence can easily
lure kids into more risky behavior than they might normally take.
however, the contact has the ability to take a screenshot. And then
what he does with that screenshot is out of your hands. The last thing
you want is for your teen to make a silly mistake that ends up as a
compromising photo or embarrassing text that spreads all over the
internet, and has potentially long-term consequences.
Our top 4 tips for handling SnapChat if you're a parent with a tween or teen.1. Research the app yourself so you know what you're talking about.
The great news is, now that parents are aware of SnapChat
(even if it's a year later), you're far more armed and ready than you
were before. It's free for both Android and iOS, and the cutesie
graphics are definitely meant to appeal to the Jr High set, not the
match.com set. 2. Talk to your kids about the internet, privacy and safety early and often.
never too early to start. The very best thing you can do is keep the
lines of communication open so you know what apps your kids are using
and how. It's the smartest way to minimize risky behavior in general.
fact, we love this quote from a friend who's the mother of a 12
year-old: "I love that my daughter first taught me about SnapChat, and
anticipated my concern by telling me she knows exactly how people can
misuse it and she would never send inappropriate photos!"
(Props to you and your daughter, mama!)
3. Decide whether to ban the app
younger teens, you have more control over the content on your kids'
phones and their internet usage, but we've found that kids are happy to
use it in groups through friends' phones. You know your kid best, of
course; but sometimes letting your child make the choice for herself not
to use it, will be far more effective.
4. Talk about the right way to use it
you think your child (like our friend's, above) is capable of using it
for its so-called intended use--sharing silly spontaneous photos with
friends that disappear--discuss the limits. Make sure they're only
sharing with friends and family they know, and nothing that is
embarrassing or compromising. Not to be alarmist, but you never know
what creeps are out there pretending to be kids. Or what creeps are kids
themselves, trying to convince your kids to do something unsavory.They might even be grabbing screenshots of that so-called limited time photo which now isn't limited time after all.
make sure that your child tells you right away if she's ever feeling
coerced into sending a photo that makes them feel uncomfortable so you
can take action.
Let's be honest, part of being a teen is making
mistakes and learning from them. They're not any different than we were
in that sense. We just hope that in this age of "the internet is
forever," that they're making mostly the kinds of mistakes that we can
all laugh about later. -Liz + KristenCatch Cool Mom Tech on the TODAY Show discussing SnapChat via this link.
[images via snapchat, montage via NYT]
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