13 Oct 2014

Snapchat: what your kids need to know

The leaking of thousands of Snapchat users’ photos online gives parents a valuable opportunity to talk to their kids about privacy.

Snapchat seemed to offer the dream solution to the problem of embarrassing selfies, by assuring users that when they sent a photo to a contact, it would be deleted on the recipient’s phone after a few seconds. SnapSaved.com offered an equally alluring promise: recipients could get round the selfie-destruct function and save incoming pics – but only if they were willing to share their Snapchat login details with SnapSaved.

Snapchat has, apparently, not been hacked. SnapSaved, apparently, has and thousands of (mostly teenage) users’ pics have been leaked online, some of which are reportedly quite intimate.

You can’t stop your child exploring the boundaries of their sexuality, and internet and phone technology is going to form part of that exploration.

But you can use the “Snappening” to open up a conversation that’ll hopefully leave both you and them better informed (note: it’s a two-way street – you learn from them, they learn from you).

Here are three lessons to learn and convey from SnapSaved:

1. Make distinctions before you share
Some content is worth protecting, some is not. Companies spent a lot of time carefully sectioning off and protecting the sensitive stuff – now your kids have to do the same. Photos of your dinner? Probably fine to share. Photos of your rude bits? Never let them off your phone – and even then….

2. You can get caught out even if you don’t think you’re sharing
Phones are connected all the time – even if you don’t email, text or otherwise consciously share a photo, the photo can still end up on a server somewhere else (iCloud is a good example).

3. Don’t use one key
Your username and password are the key to the door of that particular service, be it Snapchat, Instagram, or any other. When you use that username and password combo for another service (like SnapSaved) you give them the keys to everything that’s behind that door (like your Snapchat photos). Be careful who you give your keys to, and if possible, make sure you have a different key for every door.

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