Have you heard of Snapchat? It's gaining in popularity and while many parents have heard of it, even more kids are using it. Snapchat is the fourth most popular app on the iTunes charts and now claims to process more than 30 million messages a day. Is your tween on Snapchat? How much do you know about it?
Snapchat is an app for smartphones or computers available on iTunes or Google Play. It permits users to send pictures and videos that disappear after only a few seconds before "disappearing." It's like Instagram, but with a timer, and the longest amount of time the recipient has to view it is ten seconds.
Snapchat itself says, "Snap an ugly selfie or a video, add a caption, and send it to a friend (or maybe a few). They'll receive it, laugh, and then the snap disappears."
But here's the thing - does anything ever really disappear from the internet? No. But this app has tweens and teens thinking that it does. Snapchat allows anyone to take a screen shot of that disappearing message. While theoretically the sender should be notified if a screen shot gets taken, a quick Google search reveals instructions on how to take screen shots or save video without the sender knowing. And those screen shots do NOT disappear. Buzzfeed exposed an apparent security flaw that it says lets recipients retrieve videos sent via Snapchat.
It is also worth noting that "there are clear, and sometimes ugly, signs that sexting is common on Snapchat," as reported by CNN.com.
"Parents can’t monitor their kids photos. This is the part that most alarms me. I like to be able to scan my son’s Instagram and Facebook photos every so often to ensure what they are posting doesn’t prohibit them from getting into a college thus moving out so I can turn their room into my office." - Stefanie on Ooph.com "Are your kids Snapchatting?"
"[A]nything that reduces the time between thought and action is a risk for kids, whose ability to think through the consequences of their actions isn't fully developed. It's critical that you discuss appropriate, responsible use of the app and why sexting is a giant no-no." - Caroline Knorr for Common Sense Media"Q&A: Is Snapchat a Gateway to Sexting"
It's also worth noting that Facebook is looking to compete with Snapchat, launching the very similar Facebook Poke, although it hasn't been nearly as popular. Forbes recently declared in a headline, "the kids like SnapChat because it's NOT Facebook."
Are your kids on Snapchat? Are you comfortable with it? Do you worry more about sexting, or that it gives kids a false sense of security that something really can disappear from the internet without a trace?
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