It’s no secret that kids gravitate to newer forms of social media as soon as their parents and grandparents start to join the current one. Teens in particular just want to be themselves and express themselves without feeling that someone is watching them. And when Snapchat hit the tech world, this young generation of social media users got a new, near-perfect way to enjoy exactly that sort of freedom.
For one, any video or photo (snap) sent over this new mobile app would automatically disappear within a couple of seconds of viewing.
More excitement was generated because with Snapchat:
1. The user chooses who views and who doesn’t view their snap.
2. He or she can share just about anything that can be captured with a smartphone camera. Besides, this is going to disappear within the time the user sets.
3. Neither the parent nor the teacher nor any other person who falls among the “unintended audience” category would ever have a glimpse of what the Snapchatter shares.
Given this, kids and teens shared all sorts of snaps knowing that they now had a whole realm of communication that’s practically impossible for their parents to monitor. These included some sort of explicitly inappropriate photos and video snippets. After all, all content shared thru Snapchat disappears instantly and can’t be retrieved, right?
Not all that is shared on Snapchat disappears. And this is where teens got it wrong from the start. The youngsters swapped silly snaps with their friends. The friends take screenshots and share on the other permanent social networks. The naughtiest of them are shared the most, from network to network.
Thus, we saw the Snapchat sexting scandals hit the headlines.
This issue has remained a major concern. Parents and communities see naughty images of their kids doing rounds on the internet. As people questioned the safety of the app, Snapchat worked behind the scenes to improve the situation. Since then the company has implemented safety measures, such as:
Minimum age requirement
Snapchat requires users to be at least 13 years old. Yet there are still concerns that young users can submit a fake age to gain access. Snapchat encourages parents to talk with their kids about technology and how to use it safely.
Help the kids particularly in middle school to learn ways to protect their privacy on every platform they use online. Such collaborative efforts can keep the kids from making posts that they may only regret later. Moreover, it’s essential for grown-ups to make the kids understand that their parents trust them. Any restrictive measures are in place with the kids’ welfare in mind.
Snapchat Safety Center
The network encourages involvement of virtually everyone. It recognises that online safety and protection of user privacy is a collaborative thing.
Snapchat brings together and encourages the involvement of all these players in its safety centre. It involves joint efforts of the parents, the kids, government agencies, companies, communities as well as policy makers. ›
Since the service was launched in February 2015, tools were made available to help parents and teachers educate themselves about the mobile app. You can visit the company’s website and find the Snapchat Community Guidelines along with a host of safety suggestions.
The safety centre also has resources meant specifically for parents and teachers. Here you will find real world practical advice that can guide how you monitor your kid’s online activity and keep them safe as they use Snapchat.
The information on this platform is not merely from Snapchat. The company safety team works in partnership with educators, not-for-profit organisations and other companies to figure out the best way to promote safe ways of sharing information on the app.
Face to face communication
Snapchat encourages its communities to communicate face-to-face to guide kids on online safety. Parents and caregivers can, however, rely on the Snapchat safety centre as a source of sound advice.
Or if the kids still want to enjoy Snapchat…
Alternatively, kids below 13 years of age can sign on to Snapkidz so they don’t miss out on all the goofy stuff and fun that Snapchat has to offer.
Snapkidz is a limited version of the disappearing video and photo app that’s been optimised for safety of kids under the age of 13.
What’s good is that It includes some essential Snapchat features, including an interface for taking photos and recording videos. It also has options for captioning the snaps, drawing on them and instead of sharing, it lets you save the snaps locally on the handset.
Snapkidz however does not support sending out or receiving snaps. Neither can you add friends on this limited version. This kids-friendly Snapchat option is available only as part of an iOS app update. It is however expected to roll out to the Android OS soon.
Snapchat is a fun way to communicate and share moments with friends. It’s definitely one of the fastest growing mobile apps for all the good reasons.
A lot of people use it every day as a big part of their lives. But like any other part of the social space, there is need to keep from sharing content that can potentially harm one’s reputation if it falls into the wrong hands.