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Snapchat: Why Parents Fear it, and Kids Love it

The social media app Snapchat is getting a lot of attention and many fear the dark side that it may contain.
What started out just a couple years ago as an unknown mobile app, has gone mainstream, and has caught the attention of many downloaders.

A ghost is the logo of this social network, resembling the short nature of the messages it sends.

You should never assume something that vanishes, is truly gone. The mobile app, Snapchat has risen to the top of the digital world, and teens are hooked.

Celia Grubba, a teenage Snapchat user said, "I use it for communicating with my friends, a lot of the times it's faster than texting and you can just see what everyone's doing, see who they're with and what they're up to today."

Users set a one to ten second expiration date on a photo. They might think that once that picture evaporates from the screen, it's gone, but really it could stay in the cyber world forever.

Celia Grubba and her family use Snapchat to communicate daily. Having open conversations and understanding the real world dangers helps ease her parents concern.

Bill Grubba, Celia's father said, "The concern that we have being parents is the fact that digital media is recorded and stays in cyber space, and I don't think these kids that use these social media platforms really understand the gravity it can have going forward in their life."

Snapchat was created for users to express emotions, rather than just sending a text. It's easy and seems harmless because the images disappear, but that doesn't make it immune to sexting, cyber-bullying, and stalking.

"It kind of goes a long with if you put a piece of power in anyones hands they can misuse it," said Celia Grubba.

While a photo on your phone may disappear after just a few seconds, that doesn't prevent the person on the other side from snapping a screen shot. If a screen shot is taken, the sender is notified but that may not be enough time to prevent the picture from being shared."

David Fisher, A Rose-Hulman Professor who studies the creation of apps, says app stores have a ratings process to help distinguish the good from the bad.

"If you submit something to IOS or Android and say I'm submitting an I-phone app to the IOS app store, it asks me questions on what type of content is in there," said Fisher.

Parents and teens are also able to report problems.

"Apple reserves the right to restrict that developer. So, that's something you can try to do to help the system at large," said Fisher.

Before downloading, apps are required to list an age guide. Snapchat is recommended for kids 12 and older.

Restrictions under the setting feature on your phone, can help prevent unwanted downloads by your children.

"Then there are other things like where you can only allow certain ratings, so if you wanted to, you could only allow ratings to only allow them to download things like for people 12 years of age and younger," said Fisher.

About 150 million photos are shared daily via Snapchat, experts say just ask your kids if they're using these social media apps.

"Once your name gets out, that's what people recognize you for, and that's really damaging," said Celia Grubba.

It never hurts to follow a little teen advice.

Because parents are concerned, Snapchat has brought in a leading safety expert to help create a guide for parents to give them more information.

Click here for more information.

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