Understanding Snapchat in order to protect you and your loved ones.

The digital world in which we live has made the option of a “do-over” more difficult. Snapchat is a tool that can be used for fun and instant connections with family and friends. However, when used inappropriately, the consequences can be dire. Before allowing your child to download the app, here are a few things you should know.

Snapchat allows teens to keep in touch with friends. They have the ability to share silly and special moments with each other. These may include pictures or videos from family vacations, trips to amusement or water parks, birthdays, and so forth. Snapchat is a digital communication tool, and it can be used for good or bad. It is important to discuss with your children how to appropriately use the app.

Snap smart, Snap safe!

Snapchat allows teens to send photos and videos amongst one another. You can set a time limit on the photos so that they disappear in 1 to 10 seconds. Some teens assume that, because of this, the app is completely harmless. However, people can take screenshots, making the photos permanent. This can be worrisome for parents because they have little to no control of what may come across their child’s screen. It can also act as a fodder for future cyber bullying.

Even for teens that take extra precautions in what they send out and to whom they send it to, the fact is that once anything is posted online, it is public – even if the picture disappears in a matter of seconds. There is no such thing as anonymity online.

There is a legitimate concern that Snapchat could be used for “sexting” – sending sexually suggestive or nude photos. Help your child understand that with the screen capture capability, it is possible for a private picture to be circulated on the Internet.

Parents, get in the know.

As a parent, you want the best for your kids. More than anything, you want to ensure their safety. Talk with them and figure out what forms of social media they enjoy using and why. Make sure that they understand the consequences if they were to abuse the app. Remind your children that what they post now can resurface later in life. One’s online presence leaves a trail.

Help your teen make smart decisions to keep themselves and their reputations safe. Remember, the only sure way an inappropriate photo or video will not be distributed at large is to not put it out in the first place. All of us should learn to use technology for the better so that we may enjoy the good it can produce.