Do you remember the old Atari video game Frogger? It’s the one where you have to maneuver a frog safely through the dangers of a busy highway and river back to its home. Whenever I am in a parking lot with my kids I can’t help think of the game Frogger. There are so many cars coming in and out from all directions. My head is on a swivel and my blood pressure elevates until we get safely in the car. My kids, on the other hand, are blissfully unaware of the risks. They would run through the parking lot if I would let them. In fact, they have been mad at times when I made them hold my hand or walk right next to me. I have had to educate them on what to look out for and how to anticipate potential danger. Eventually, they will be able to navigate their own way without my having to point it out.
The dangerous parking lot for tweens and teens is social media. There are risks everywhere and at that age, they do not have the maturity and thought process to navigate it safely. They need us to help them through it, but the problem is it changes so quickly it can be tough for parents to keep up. We’ve got you covered. The social media platform that most tweens and teens use these days is Snapchat. It’s important for you to discuss with them the potential lurking trouble spots. Here are 4 dangers of Snapchat to discuss with your kids.
Note: Snapchat in itself is not bad. However, just like other social media, it has dangers unique to this platform. Don’t be surprised if they know all of the following. You probably won’t be revealing new information to them. They just don’t know why and how these things are dangerous. It’s up to us to walk them through the potential consequences.
A False Sense of Security
Teens on Snapchat become emboldened to post more risque pictures of themselves.Videos and pictures sent on Snapchat disappear after a certain period of time. Many teens and tweens have a false sense of security that anything posted will be gone in a short time. Therefore, teens on Snapchat become emboldened to post more risque pictures of themselves. Others may take a screen shot, but if so the one who posted the photo is notified who did it. This gives a small deterrent to screen shots, but kids are smart. They circumvent the notification by taking a photo of the picture with another cell phone. Then they can have the photo permanently without the poster knowing and do anything with it.
The Internet is Permanent
Kids need to know that anything posted to the internet is permanent regardless of whether it “disappears” or not. In the case of Snapchat, their terms specifically state that any photo or video posted to Snapchat officially belongs to Snapchat. This means they can redistribute it and sell if they choose.
Cyber Bullying and Exclusivity
Any social media platform will be a place where cyber bullying will take place. Snapchat pictures can be captured as explained above and then edited easily with disparaging, embarrassing, or even graphic pictures. Snapchat also makes it easy for teens to be exclusive. It gives a feature where a user could block individuals from seeing certain posts. It happens often and teens consistently feel singled out and excluded. This is nothing new to teen culture, but it is another area they need help navigating.
Finally, there are the online predators who try to connect with unsuspecting teenagers to exploit or even gain sensitive information that can be used to extort. One young Snapchat user told me she receives requests to connect from strangers all of the time. Be sure to have a conversation about this risk. They should never connect to anyone who isn’t a physically known friend.
If you would like to learn how Snapchat works follow this tutorial for beginners.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What would you do if you were approached by an adult you didn’t know?”