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What should parents know about Snapchat?

Source:  Common Sense Media

Snapchat is a popular messaging app that allows children and teens to exchange user-generated photos, texts, videos, and calls -  both audio and video. 

Children enjoy Snapchat because it offers fun, easy-to-use instant-editing tools that let them add cool effects to “Snaps,” such as captions, drawings, and emojis. They can send and exchange fun, silly pictures that disappear after a few seconds.
The fact that
 the messages don't last makes Snapchat feel like a game, offering a sense of freedom where children and teens can share the silly, fleeting moments of the day. On the other hand, they may be tempted to share sexy images, thinking the pictures will go away.

The developer of Snapchat claims that "Snaps" can't be saved within the app and are only viewable for one to 10 seconds before disappearing from the recipient's device, noting that the app notifies the sender if the recipient takes a screenshot of an image. But parents should be aware that it's not actually true that Snaps disappear forever. You can purchase additional "Replays" -- though you're limited to one Replay per Snap. It's also possible -- especially in the case of friendship drama or dating/flirting situations -- that the receiver could take a screenshot using his or her phone or another app to capture Snaps, negating the “temporary” aspect of the service.

Children and teens always need to use good judgment about what they send because social media instantly becomes a part of their digital footprint. Parents need to treat Snapchat and other social media just as you would any other environment in your child’s life. The same parenting guidelines apply in both real and virtual environments. Set limits. Know your children's friends. Know what platforms, software, and apps your children are using.
Make certain your children are behaving appropriately in both the real and online worlds. They sometimes make mistakes using social media. Try to handle their error in judgment with empathy and turn a mistake into a teachable moment. But some indiscretions, such as sexting, bullying, or posting self-harm images, may be a red flag that hints at trouble ahead. Parents should take a closer look at your child's behaviors and, if needed, enlist supportive professional help, including from your pediatrician

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