Q: My daughter says using Snapchat is safe because the
photo message disappears after a few seconds. True?
A: Snapchat has become a hot app for
message-happy teens who love to communicate. This app, available
for iPhone and Android devices, is a real-time picture chatting
message tool enjoying more than 50 million "snaps" a day. Users
take snapshots (or "snaps") and send them to each other in lieu of
text messages. They can exchange short videos, too.
One of Snapchat's exciting nuances is a promise the message only
lasts for a short time. Users can set a timer for their photo
message, which will disappear once opened in a few seconds.
While kids enjoy sending fun photos (the app even allows users
to add drawings and photos captions to their snaps), some speculate
that disappearing messages give kids a false sense of security.
Concerned parents worry that apps like this may provoke risky,
impulsive behavior and increase sexting between teens.
Like most apps, this one is generally a fun, creative way for
kids to connect. Whether it affects a teen's impulse control will
have more to do with the teen than the app.
That said, parents need to remind kids that there is always a
risk that their private information, messages, and photos can go
public - whether they are supposed to disappear or not.
Download the app and try it to understand how it works. Then, go
over these basic reminders with kids that apply to Snapchat, a
similar app by Facebook called Poke, and many other photo messaging
apps teens love to use.
The bottom line? Kids should never send, text, tweet or post
content that may be interpreted in an inappropriate way-whether it
promises to disappear or not.
Sharon Cindrich is a mother of two tech-savvy kids from Virginia Beach. Learn more at sharoncindrich.com.
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