CyberSafe Parent: A crash course on Snapchat, for parents

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Just as you’ve mastered Facebook and Twitter, there’s Snapchat.

If you’re like me, you really have no idea what it is. So I went to an expert for a crash course on everything parents need to know.

Usually when we interview “experts” on the news, they have advanced degrees or lab coats. But when it comes to social media, they have backpacks and cell phones.

Seventeen-year-old Jacob Larsen is our expert.

“The really big connotation around Snapchat we kind of touched on is the sexting app. It’s not. Really, it’s really just another texting app,” he said.

It’s the one with all the filters.

“There’s the face filters that track your face you can put a dog nose in, dog ears, and there’s also the normal filters like on an Instagram photo,” he said.

The big appeal? A much smaller digital footprint than Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

“It’s social media that you send a photo and it disappears after 10 seconds, but you can set it to make it disappear after they click,” he said.

But let’s be honest — does anything really disappear once it hits the internet?

Someone can always take a screenshot, but you will get a heads up.

“Yeah, it sends you a notification,” Jacob said.

However, the latest iPhone update includes “screen recording” capabilities, allowing you to capture a video of everything happening on your phone. If someone is using that feature, you won’t get a notification.

Also, the company keeps a record of each user’s last 200 snaps.

“I have multiple friends who’ve made some poor choices on Snapchat. Didn’t really think about the consequences of what they were sending. They sent it to someone who was uncomfortable with receiving what they sent, and their parents found out, the school found out, they got their phone taken away,” Jacob said. “This is multiple people.”

Here’s something else you should know about: the Snap Map.

“I’ve turned it off,” Jacob said. “A lot of people have turned it off, and it’s really dangerous because it gives out your exact location.”

>> Tap here for instructions on how to disable the Snap Map. 

But if you turn that off, and use a little common sense, Jacob said Snapchat is perfectly safe.

“Don’t actually harass people, and don’t send things people don’t ask for, and things you wouldn’t want your mother to see,” he said.

CORRECTION: This story originally referred to an app for young children called Snapkidz. That app is no longer available. 

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