Snapchat used to be referred to as one of the most dangerous apps for kids to use. The original idea behind it was that any pictures you sent to another person would disappear forever*.
An infusion of venture capital in recent years has led to some changes at Snapchat. Now, major brands like Taco Bell, Intel, Acura, and the Philadelphia Zoo have a presence on the image-sharing app.
If your kids haven’t already asked to install Snapchat you can be assured that they will ask as soon as the find out “all of their friends” are using it too. So is it safe for your teens? What should you be aware of when using the service?
Listen to the podcast or keep reading to find out.
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Quote of the Week
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela
What is Snapchat?
Snapchat is a social network that allows people to share pictures and videos friends and followers. These updates disappear after a certain amount of time so it creates a sense of urgency and immediacy when someone is notified of any new updates.
Many businesses have seen the benefit of this “immediate consumption” trend and have created their own presences on the social network drawing more people in through contests and unique advertising models. Taco Bell was one of the first brands to use and encourage others to join them on Snapchat.
Will my teens want to use Snapchat?
Oh, yes! It’s the fastest growing social network among teens. In fact, this is the social network where teens feel the most comfortable:
Snapchat is where we can really be ourselves while being attached to our social identity. Without the constant social pressure of a follower count or Facebook friends, I am not constantly having these random people shoved in front of me. Instead, Snapchat is a somewhat intimate network of friends who I don’t care if they see me at a party having fun.
On no other social network (besides Twitter possibly) is it acceptable post an “I’m soooo bored” photo besides Snapchat. There aren’t likes you have to worry about or comments—it’s all taken away. Snapchat has a lot less social pressure attached to it compared to every other popular social media network out there. This is what makes it so addicting and liberating. If I don’t get any likes on my Instagram photo or Facebook post within 15 minutes you can sure bet I’ll delete it. Snapchat isn’t like that at all and really focuses on creating the Story of a day in your life, not some filtered/altered/handpicked highlight. It’s the real you.
—A Teenager’s View on Social Media
Now that users of the service can follow people and brands I think it’s becoming a lot more “normal” for people to use Snapchat.
What should I be concerned about?
First, Snaps disappear. This means that it’s very easy for your kids to hide their activity. Of course, if you have an account and you’re following them too then you can keep an eye on what they’re doing but who wants to constantly check their smartphone to find out if their kids are using Snapchat in a dangerous way.
Second, Snaps don’t always disappear. There are plenty of apps out there that copy images and videos from Snapchat. I think most kids are aware that their activity online isn’t 100% private but it’s important that you know that it’s more public than you realize.
Third, although Snapchat is doing their best to encourage privacy and make parents feel safe about their product. It’s still a platform that is heavily abused. The nature of the platform makes it ripe for people to do inappropriate things—things you don’t want your kids to deal with.
Young teens should avoid Snapchat completely. If you have an older teen (16 and up) you might want to have a conversation with them about why they want to use Snapchat. If it’s just to keep in touch with their friends there are plenty of safer alternatives. Most teens use multiple social networks so there’s bound to be one or two that is a better fit. One option may be to have a family account and setup the privacy settings so that only friends can send you Snaps but that still allows everyone to see what you’re sharing.
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Music for the podcast by Kevin Macleod.