Snapchat 101: Things Parents Need To Know
It’s no secret we are living in a society heavily influenced by social media.
Guest post by Amy Williams
Most of us use social media and rely on it to stay in touch with family, read the news, and follow our favourite bloggers and our children are joining the social revolution, also. Our kids love the fast paced world of instant communication with friends and the unlimited ways available to express themselves. These reasons have led to a surge in social media consumption among our children. One app that stands out in particular is Snapchat. According to Business Insider, Snapchat is currently the most popular app among our teens.
Snapchat 101: Things Parents Need to Know
Snapchat is a fun and engaging app for our kids, but it is critical that we understand the inner workings of this app so we can empower our sons and daughters with the skills needed to safely interact with their friends. The main drawing feature of Snapchat is that it relies on disappearing messages.
These messages and photos automatically delete after being viewed, which is a liberating concept for our kids. Teens enjoy the fleeting quality of this app, claiming it helps promote more authentic communication. Users don’t have to worry about creating a running timeline of every like, comment, photo, or post that occurs on almost every other social media giant.
A few years ago, this site implemented Stories which acts like a homepage or profile. A story is basically a compilation of all the chats a user has created or posted within 24 hours to let friends view them. This, coupled with the amusing filters the site has adopted, allows our sons and daughters unlimited opportunities to engage with their friends in a freeing manner that they don’t often get on other platforms.
However, teens have been known to be lured into a false sense of security with disappearing messages and sites like Snapchat. Occasionally, kids will use this app to take inappropriate pictures or sexts. Often our sons and daughters believe the images will disintegrate into the thin air, but they don’t realize that Snapchats can be screen-grabbed by someone on the receiving end. This can open a child up to extortion, sexting scandals, and cyberbullying. Snapchat even addresses this issue on their site telling people to “never post or send any nude or sexual content involving people under the age of 18- even yourself”.
10 Essential Tips to Keep Our Kids Safe
Snapchat is a favourite social media hangout among our kids and is probably here to stay. It is our job to protect our kids and even though we can’t look over their shoulder for every post, we can help set some guidelines to keep their safety a priority while enjoying the social media app. After all, it is the loving thing to do.
Listed below are 10 ways to keep our kids safe on Snapchat:
- Before downloading Snapchat, have a discussion that clarifies and outlines all your expectations. Make sure to include the dangers of sexting and remind children that the Internet never truly forgets.
- The app isn’t geared toward the 13 and under crowd, respect their age guidelines and only allow older teens to use Snapchat.
- Help a child adjust their privacy settings within the app.
- Encourage a teen to notify an adult if they receive anything that makes them uncomfortable.
- Let them know that it is okay to “just say no” to a sext request.
- If a teen encounters bullying or harassing messages they can directly contact Snapchat.
- Only have a child friend people they know in real life.
- Never share passwords or personal information with others, even their best friend or crush.
- If a child receives racy photos, immediately have them delete the image and send a message back to the sender telling them to stop sending those types of photos. This will help protect a child if they are ever prosecuted for sexting by the authorities.
- Teach them the “grandma rule”. They should only post items that they would feel comfortable with their grandparents seeing.
What social media tips do you have for keeping kids safe online?
Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety.