Friday, May 2, 2014

3 Situations to Avoid Snapchat (Parents Pay Attention to #1)

Snapchat released an update today that now gives users the ability to send texts and to video chat all in their "Confidential" network that keeps the photos and now texts and videos from taking up the usable storage on your device. With the new update they will certainly increase their number of users and folks will find new reasons to sign up. Snapchat can have some advantages in certain environments; however I strongly discourage the use of Snapchat and similar apps like CyberDust specifically for the following people or situations.

1.      If you are a Teenager - Parents this one is on you. Your teenager is going to have very compelling arguments and reasons for using the service but for their protection I strongly advise that you do not let your child use the app. The temptation for anyone to send a message they might regret is increased with the illusion of safety, confidentiality, and the message disappearing forever. However, there are apps that others can use to circumvent the safety features and nothing stops the user on the other end from taking a screen shot. Even if the message is not captured it can cause lasting emotional damage or drama. Social pressures will never be the same as they are when you are a teenager, and this is a good thing. Predators are out there but even more so you must be cautious of people that are just mean or manipulative and can significantly affect your life. (iTunes rates the app 12+)

2.    Work relationships - If you Snapchat with a co-worker you are just asking for trouble in the long-term. Once again the platform provides a sense of security that can influence you to let your guard down on a scale of morality or simply lead you to be less filtered in your interactions. This can cause significant damage to your career. Do yourself a favor and do not interact with people in your industry on Snapchat.

3.    Any Adult / Teen relationship - Teens should not be on the platform in the first place but let’s be honest... they are. If you are a parent, teacher, or youth worker, you need to communicate with teenagers in a much more transparent way. Be above reproach. I think it is obvious that there are certain liability issues at play when talking with a teenager in a way that cannot be monitored. Are you likely to be sent something inappropriate, yes absolutely; there is more to inappropriate conversations than just the things that could land you in jail. I strongly suggest that you do not use Snapchat to interact with teenagers.

So when would I recommend Snapchat?

You can use Snapchat to communicate with family that you like to talk with on your mobile device and don't want to use up all your device storage with messages back and forth with that person. You can also use the service with your best friends, ones that you have known for a while. No matter how close you think you are with someone, if you have not known someone for more than a year it is easy to be deceived by character. Protect yourself and don’t use it.

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