Social networks have almost completely taken over our communications. People love to connect with each other via these online platforms. They not only message one another, but also share their feelings along with their photos and videos.
It’s no wonder then that in a world so obsessed with social networking, children are taking up these modern forms of communication as well. Smartphone apps like WhatsApp and Facebook have made it easier than ever for children to contact their friends for free, and have caused a steep increase in young children’s smartphone use.
Snapchat is a New Way to Communicate
So what is the reason that a new app called Snapchat is getting so much love from children when other social networking apps are already available? It’s because Snapchat offers a new way for people to communicate.
This is an app that allows the users to send photo or video messages to their friends that expire over a certain amount of time. Users can choose to send messages with a time limit between 1 to 10 seconds, after which their message will be deleted from the receiving device.
Not as safe as it sounds
While the people using Snapchat like to think that it is completely safe and somewhat private, they are wrong. First off, the people receiving a snap can easily save it on their device. Snapchat does notify the sender of this action, but it can be done nonetheless.
The more risky aspect of using the app is that there are multiple other ways to save someone’s snaps. The easiest one of these is simply taking a picture of the screen of one’s phone with another device while a snap is being displayed.
The Risk for Children
This is where the real risk of using the app comes in, especially when being used by young children or teens. The whole premise of using Snapchat is that people can send messages to each other that they think to be ‘temporary’. Children have been known to use this premise to send sexually inappropriate content to one another, often including their own photos. This new form of sexting is not only dangerous as it is, Snapchat also makes it possible for the people receiving such snaps to save them and circulate them on the internet.
Age Restrictions Offer Some Safety
In order to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, Snapchat does invoke an age restriction. Children under 13 cannot register for the complete version of the app. They can still use a stripped down version of the app where they can edit their images but are unable to share them with anyone.
What Can You Do?
So the question is, what can a parent do in order to keep their child safe from the dangers that Snapchat brings? The first and foremost step is to talk to your children. Children will understand you more if you talk to them in a calm way without putting any restrictions on them right away. Young teens and children should be made aware of the consequences of sharing inappropriate content with others so that any possible threats can be avoided.