Snapchat is one of the fastest-growing social applications available today. It allows people to snap and caption photos as part of a conversation. This is viewed as far more personal than simple text messaging. Although Snapchat certainly has fun features, it’s important to discuss safety with kids – especially with preteens and teens who have their own mobile phones. Here’s how to approach the conversation and keep your child safe online.
Remind Them to Never Snap with Strangers
Although it might seem harmless to snap someone you don’t know, people can be whomever they choose on the internet. It’s possible for people to send pictures of other people – even people your kids may know – and claim to be that person. It’s best to teach your kids that things aren’t always what they appear to be, especially when it comes to the internet. Snapchat is a fun way to keep in touch, but your kids should only talk to people they know and have confirmed their username.
Nothing is Truly Private
A common misconception about Snapchat is that messages and photos disappear after a few seconds. This false belief can encourage risky behavior since kids perceive what they send will vanish quickly – even when snapping with strangers. While this is true, and Snapchat is designed to make things seemingly vanish shortly after viewed, there’s nothing to stop someone from taking a screenshot. Screenshots create a permanent digital image. Teach your kids to be careful about the images and text they send. Nothing shared is ever guaranteed to remain truly private.
They’re Giving Snapchat Permission to Use Their Photos
Never Meet Up with People They Encounter Online
It’s vital that children be reminded that not everyone is who they claim to be, and that’s why children should never meet up with an individual they encounter online. There are online predators who use social media like Facebook, Snapchat, and even Instagram to lure their victims. In most cases, these predators claim to be children of similar ages and with similar interests. We’ve shared a couple of great posts on the topics of Grooming and Sextortion which we recommend reviewing so you’re familiar with the signs of a sexual predator. Once again, remind kids that they should never exchange snaps with people they don’t know.
You Should Stay in the Loop
Finally, remind your kids that their Snapchat accounts are not rights; they’re privileges. You should add their Snapchat account to Bark, where we monitor their Stories, and check in with them often, to make sure your kids are following the rules you set forth for the use of social media. Make sure there are serious consequences – such as the loss of their phones for a predetermined amount of time – for instances in which they do not follow the rules.
Although Snapchat can be a lot of fun for preteens and teens as it gives them a means of keeping in touch with friends, it is vital that your kids learn to use Snapchat appropriately to stay safe. The general rules of the internet apply, so be sure to discuss them thoroughly and keep an open and honest dialogue with them about staying safe online.