Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Beware of this App

Snapchat is meant to be silly but can be scary.
Parents need to beware of the Snapchat app on their child's smart phone or mobile device. I recently learned of Snapchat from a parent who attended a presentation I gave on Digital Parenting.  SnapChat can be downloaded for both Android and iPhone. Try as I might to be up on the latest in social media no one can keep pace with the vast network of ways in which kids can communicate these days. However, this is one app that you should actively look out for and discuss with your child. 

Snapchat was created to be a picture sharing app that makes it safe to send silly photos to others without the long term consequences. The idea or hook being that Snapchat will permanently delete the photo after six to twelve seconds depending on the settings the sender selects. It is also designed to notify you if someone takes a screenshot of the picture. Note that it DOES NOT prevent the screenshot, just notifies the sender. There are already hacks and work arounds for this and they are widely published. Regardless of the embarrassing digital footprint that could develop for your child, believing they are safe from such consequences, you probably do not want them sending pictures and text that you cannot monitor.

These are two of the tamer Twitter posts I found when using the hashtag #snapchat.

I learned of  more great tips in Patrick Larkin's Blog Post "Are you sure your Child isn't using Social Media?" I would carry that question one further and ask, are you sure the social media sites your child is using are the only accounts they have? In my experience, there are kids, even kids widely regarded as role models, who have opened secret email accounts and social media accounts under pseudonyms believing this prevents them from ever suffering consequences for their online behavior. While I am not a fan of helicopter parenting and I am certain no parent can completely protect their child, I do believe consistent communication and a proactive approach can minimize the risk and maximize the learning and social benefits. The secret is balancing latitude and limits. Leading by example and encouraging positive ways to manage their online identity are also critical. For more information from greater minds than mine please visit these resources.

Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media is a must bookmark for any parent. They review games, websites, apps, movies, books, albums etc. for age appropriate material. They also give critical reviews.

OnGuard Online   This site offers a free online comprehensive guide to protecting your child when it comes to all things digital

Raising Digital Kids   This is made by the gentleman who created many of the slides in my presentation, David Truss. Of special interest here is his guidance on how and when to set limits on digital time.

Connect and Protect Wiki Dave Sands is a District Principal and father of four. He put together a wiki that offers insight into a lot of social media tools as well as Internet based tools used in education. It is also a portal to many other resources

The Door That is Not Locked  This site by Canada is separated into age appropriate resources.

Instagram What Parents Need to Know

SnapChat Photos That Self Destruct  This article is a great write up for parents on how to handle this app.
Tumblr Why Kids Love it and What Parents Need to Know

A Parent’s Guide to Twitter
Twitter is the new Facebook but most parents do not know how it is used and do not monitor. There are less privacy controls than Facebook and a greater chance what gets posted can go viral. Because it works in the same way text messaging works many kids are posting more private and inappropriate content.

Google + Safety Center


MinorMonitor  This free resource will monitor your child’s Facebook page and send you e-mail alerts when there is inappropriate activity

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