This article originally appeared on the MommyNearest mobile app where I am an “Expert Mom” and weekly contributor. To read great daily content and find the best places to hang out with your kids in the Chicago and New York metropolitan areas, download the app HERE for free.
I’ve already given you the ins and outs on what all parents need to know about Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In the fourth installment of our series on What Parents Should Know about popular social media platforms, I’m taking a look at the relatively new platform that is Snapchat. Snapchat is a picture and video sharing app that, according to Business Insider already has 30 million monthly users. The hook with Snapchat is that whatever you sent via the app will disappear within a few seconds of being read/viewed.
Imagine what a teen would send to their friends if they thought no one was looking or it would never come back to haunt them. Are you freaked out yet?
From allowing people to take screen shots of sent images, to storing the information in secret, unseen files deep within mobile devices, whatever you send through Snapchat never really “goes away”, despite the claims. After all, does anything on the internet ever go away?
Snapchat, knowing full well that this issue could terrify parents, put out this handy guide for parents that explains best practices about children utilizing the app.
I wasn’t as familiar with Snapchat as some of the other social tools and so I downloaded the app and started playing around to get a better feel of what it was like and how it worked. After doing a little digging, here are my Top 6 Things that parents should know about Snapchat:
1. As with most social networking sites, Snapchat recommends that users be at least 13 to utilize their service. This has nothing to do with protecting your child and everything to do with utilizing posts and pictures for marketing purposes.
2. There is a version of Snapchat for kids under 13 called SnapKidz. This option allows data to only be stored on their mobile device – connections with friends and messaging through the main Snapchat application are not allowed.
3. If Snapchat is downloaded on a mobile device that is also used as a phone, the phone number is included in the profile information.
4. Snapchat has two options for sharing content: “My Friends” and “Everyone”. Please make sure that your child is only connected to people that they ARE ACTUALLY FRIENDS WITH IN REAL LIFE and that their account is set to share their information to “My Friends”. As with all social media, monitoring the “friend” connections is a crucial part of managing a child’s Snapchat account.
5. Most important: discuss appropriate video and digital content. Talk about sexually explicit pictures and video and the personal and legal ramifications of sending this type of content.
6. As I say with each of these, remember that Wi-Fi is free almost everywhere. They’ll use their friends phones, tablets, music players, video games, school computers, or whatever they can get their hands on with internet access to use Snapchat or other applications. Grounding them from social media is ineffective.
What are your thoughts? Are you currently doing any of the above steps? Do you or your kids have a Snapchat account?