If your children are using or begging to use the Snapchat app on their digital devices, the time has come for a conversation.
Kids love Snapchat because it makes them feel like they can have secrets, sharing them with others by choice, and occasionally venturing into out-of-bounds territory. They like it because it’s private. And they like it because everything self-destructs in a few seconds.
Well, not really disappear, because the digital footprints we make are never lost and are always lying around — often for a long time.
According to a New York Times article, Off the Record in a Chat App? Don’t Be Sure, the Federal Communications.Commission (FCC) has declared that Snapchat’s claims of disappearing messages and privacy are false. This is a good time to sit down with kids and review the situation — emphasizing that none of us has much privacy anymore, no matter what app makers claim. The privacy which many pre-adolescents and teens thought that they had, does not exist, according to Times reporter Jenna Wortham, who also goes into detail about the settlement with the FCC and the terms that Snapchat has agreed to.
Many parents and educators observe children (their own and friends’ kids — under age 13) using Facebook or Google+ and sometimes both. In the connected world, these social media sites are fun to use, and staying connected with friends and other people has never been easier.
While the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA) sets 13 as the legal age for users of these two social media sites, many adults don’t know about COPPA or don’t believe it is sensible enough to apply and enforce with their younger children. Thus many kids start using Google+ and Facebook at ages well below age 13.
One significant difference between the two social media sites is the way users handle friends and contacts. On Google+ a user cannot add a contact without putting the person into at least one circle (Google’s term for groups). A circle is a category that is set up and defined with certain characteristics — friends, school friends, work friends, business contacts, etc. When a Google+ user sends out a status update, he or she specifies the group or groups that will receive the updates — clear and easy for users to figure out right away. Continue reading →