The older your kids get, the more they will ask you to let them join the latest social media craze. Right now, that craze is most certainly Snapchat.
But, with every new social media app comes a whole new list of red flags we, as parents, need to know of.
Here is the lowdown on Snapchat and your kids.
On the surface, Snapchat can be a lot of fun and encourage creativity, while teaching kids to have a sense of humor about themselves.
Taking funny pictures with a Snap filter can add dog-ears or distort their features for a good wholesome laugh. In fact, you’re more than likely going to be asked to partake in the almost-always-hilarious face-swap feature with your kids.
As a condition for letting your child have Snapchat, you can regularly review your child’s contacts to make sure that everyone in there is a friend or relative. You need to have a conversation with your child about the dangers of adding anyone else.
Part of Snapchat’s appeal is the fact that messages and pictures will basically self-destruct after a few seconds, leaving no trail of what has been shared. That is an obvious red flag for parents.
Of course, most of these evaporated messages and pictures are mundane Snaps of food or new outfits. However, the temporary nature of these messages does open the door for inappropriate messages, pictures or “sexting.”
This is one area that really scares parents, and for good reason. At least with Facebook or Instagram, you can see a digital footprint of direct messages to see what’s been shared.
There is a tool you can use to monitor these messages called mSpy, which can also monitor their other social activities and GPS location.
About a third of Snapchat’s users are between 13-17. This obviously makes it a target for the wrong kind of people that you certainly don’t want your kids to come into contact with. There are definitely horror stories out there that you may want to read.
As with any social media platform, it is all too easy for an adult to create a fake profile and pose as just another teen to interact with poor unsuspecting kids.
Parents need to be mindful of this and have conversations with their kids about the dangers of these people.
They need to know that they should never interact with a “kid” who they don’t know personally. They should only share pictures and stories with the kids they have actually met from school, or their local clubs like dance, soccer or whatever they do after school.
How Can I Protect My Kids on Snapchat
If you greenlight your kids’ Snapchat use, you don’t want to just let them set up a profile and hope for the best.
Sitting down with them to create their account, while going through all the settings, is a perfect opportunity to familiarize yourself with the app and talk to your kids about the importance of safety.
The most important step is in the settings under the “Who Can” heading. This is where you set the parameters of who can see your child’s stories, posts, and location.
Remember, be sure you stress that social media can be fun, but it’s not a toy. Having a social media account comes with a lot of responsibly to never post anything that they may regret (or you may regret) later, never bully any other kids, and never expose themselves to any sort of dangerous people.