Ever heard of Snapchat? No? Well parents, maybe you should do your research a bit better.
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In the world of parents, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the leading social media applications on our “Most Wanted” list. At times, parents even go to the point of making a fake account and befriending their sons or daughters just to spy on them in social media. Others go through their child’s personal computer and look at their kid’s history. Apparently, you have an outdated list because an application called Snapchat is gaining popularity among teenagers; maybe even your own daughter uses this. Maybe it’s time you see what parents should need to know about Snapchat.
Launched in 2011, Snapchat has quickly gained popularity to a hundred million active users and over 60 million total installs, making it way larger than Instagram. You ask why it’s popularity quickly escalated? Well, Snapchat works like a ghost, based on the icon itself, users could take photos, videos, send texts and drawings to friends which will be hidden and deleted instantly. Viola! No more proof!
Statistics show that out of the 100 million active users of Snapchat, 70% are women, 71 % are under 25 years old and 32% are teens. Looking at the numbers, you may think that there’s no need to worry since there are more women using it and that your teen might not be part of the 32% using the app. Technically, like any social media application, Snapchat initiates socializing skills of your kid along with engaging kids into communication. Moreover, social media sites are advantageous for online marketers because they could easily narrow down their audience through the site’s filter.
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If you don’t know anything about the app, then here’s one statistic where you should worry. Among the college students that use Snapchat, 2% uses the app to send sexts or sex text messages. Now, I’m pretty sure a bunch of what-ifs are going through your head: What if my teen is also sending sexts? What if he sent out a nude photo? What if a guy sends him a nude pic?
Apart from Snapchat as a den of sex addicts, this application could also be a venue of social media bullying. News has been circulating about kids committing suicide due to the heavy load of bashes they receive from people they knew and even strangers. You may wonder how this would happen when the photo is deleted after 10 seconds. They use the snapshot tool. Using this tool they could grab your photo, troll it, and send it to hundreds of people. There goes your privacy kiddo.
Well, folks I hate to break it to you but now you see why you should worry.
I Don’t Want to Ruin My Child’s Trust, What to Do?
Most teenagers accuse parents of breaking their privacy by simply looking into their cell phones or stalking them in social media accounts. Kids, you should know that whatever you put in the internet, no matter how ‘private’ it is, it still gets into the internet and you should be cautious. On the other hand, parents should not be scared of ruining your child’s trust, for all they know it’s all for their safety anyway.
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However, some overprotective parents resort to taking away their smart phones or even banning them from installing the app. This is not entirely correct. This type of strict parenting does not help your child learn and discover things on their own. Though it is true that you are supposed to protect your children, there are times that they should learn on their own. Depending on how kids and teens use Snapchat is where the danger lies. The best thing for you to do is to remind your children about the dangers of sharing too much information online. It may sound too boring especially coming from a parent, but it’s the best thing to do. This way, you do not break your child’s trust nor his privacy.
Don’t lose hope parents because early this year, Snapchat upgraded their security features with phone verification before using the app’s “Find Friends” feature and identification to those with ghost images to prevent hackers from breaking into their phone numbers. However, even with an upgrade, hackers were still able to get through these features quickly. Even with this security upgrade, teens should still be wary about the images and videos that they share.
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You see, raising a kid in a technology-driven century is a hard task especially if you are not updated on how everything works. Instead of discouraging your child from new technology, share the experience with him or her. Avoid putting too much negative bias over these things because this is what they lived in. You should know how it feels. Protecting your child has boundaries as well, if it entails the underdevelopment of your child, then you have crossed the line. Encourage the intelligent use of social media. That’s what you have to do.
For teens out there, you may be relieved or even ecstatic that such an app was devised for control-freak parents or sneaky girlfriends/boyfriends. You are ensured that your parents could not get to the rumors you were talking about with your friend or late night conversations with your boyfriend. Valuing privacy is a great thing but it may also be the worst thing about Snapchat. You, as a teenager, should know better and use the app wisely.
As a parent, I know it’s hard to keep up with the fast-paced digital world. Learning how the app works is not a bad idea but don’t be overly paranoid about the application. Remind your child about the threats brought about the misuse of social media. Although your child may just let this pass through his ears, he will still think about it. Be cautious about your child’s behavior such as locking himself in the bathroom or in his room. If ever something awful comes out of this application, don’t scold your child. Give the necessary support, protect and be the parent that you should be.