What parents need to know about Snapchat

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by WHITNEY WARD & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on May 16, 2013 at 6:54 PM

Updated Friday, May 17 at 7:48 AM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- One new smartphone app is raising concern among parents. Snapchat allows users to send messages which delete once they are viewed. Users can send messages containing text, pictures, video, and audio.

The Snapchat website described the app as a new way to share moments with friends. The websites claims:

“The allure of fleeting messages reminds us about the beauty of friendship - we don't need a reason to stay in touch.”

Yet, some parents told KREM 2 News that it is the fleeting message concept which worries them the most. Keith Robertson and his daughter Cassidy know all about Snapchat. Cassidy is a senior at Mead High School and admits to using Snapchat.

It is a habit that her dad does not always love. Keith said he cannot check what Cassidy texts because it disappears within Snapchat.

Messages arrive into your Snapchat inbox and disappear within 10 seconds of viewing it. Parents said it seems like a foolproof way for kids to send racy pictures or bullying texts and leave no evidence behind.

“They can get away with a lot more than what they can on Facebook,” said Keith.

However, KREM 2 News discovered that the pictures are anything but gone. They are stored in a secret file on your phone. Users are not supposed to be able to access the file according to experts but Keith said that will not stop tech savvy kids.

Parents worry that users can take screenshots of the messages or have someone else take a picture of their phone.

Teacher Cris Coffield said it is adding up to a false sense of security for kids, from middle school to college.

“The problem with high school kids is they're caught up in the moment,” said Coffield.

Cassidy said Snapchat actually cuts down on some of the problems created by traditional text messaging. 

“Some girl sends a bad picture to a boy. He shares it with all of his buddies, but the whole school knows. and they have to live with that forever,” said Cassidy.

That is the reason Keith decided to join Snapchat.

“Snapchat doesn't really give you a way to follow what they're doing,” said Keith. “You have to keep up with what your kids are doing, or you're not going to have a clue who they're hanging out with or what they're doing.”

Coffield said that kids are using Snapchat because their friends are using it.

“They're still going to test the waters,” added Coffield.

Now some Spokane schools are making a point of educating students about the dangers of
Snapchat.

“Sending inappropriate photos, or even forwarding them on, you could be in trouble with the law,” said Coffield.

A digital company out of Utah recently found a way to access those Snapchat pictures which supposedly disappear. Decipher Forensics promises to retrieve those pictures for $500.

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