Parents, especially the parents of teenagers using the mobile photo sharing app Snapchat, were understandably concerned and surprised in May when several Facebook groups and a website posted Snapchat images that were supposedly deleted. What does your teen need to know about Snapchat privacy?
The first thing kids should understand is that the same rules that apply to the rest of the Internet also apply to Snapchat. Even though Snapchat promises to delete images – called “snaps” – after your child sends them, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be recovered.
The easiest way to capture a snap is to simply take a screenshot of it. Snapchat notifies your child if this happens, but Snapchat can’t prevent it from happening or delete the screenshot once it’s been taken.
There are also other ways to recover a Snapchat after the fact. If you’ve ever accidentally deleted a file from your home computer, you know that with a little computer savvy you can dig it back up. There are ways to recover deleted snaps.
Your child may easily believe that snaps vanish automatically. Snapchat’s official website promises that they can send their friends silly pictures and that “they’ll receive it, laugh, and then the snap disappears.”
The problem arises when kids assume that since pictures disappear, it’s a perfectly safe way to engage in sexting. Snapchat can be a fun app for your child and his friends to use, but your child should always understand that there is no perfectly safe way to send a sext message.
Tim Woda is a passionate advocate for protecting children from today’s scariest digital dangers – cyberbullying, sexting and online predators. He is the co-founder of uKnow.com, developers of uKnowKids.