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The Online Mom provides internet technology advice and information to help parents protect their kids, encourage responsible behavior and safely harness the power of technology in the new digital world. Social networking, photo sharing, video games, IM & texting, internet security, cyberbullying, educational resources, the latest on tech hardware, gadgets and software for kids 3-8, tweens and teens, and more.

Parental Guides for Instagram and Snapchat



For those parents already feeling a little overwhelmed by Facebook, the stunning popularity of instant photo-sharing services like Instagram and Snapchat can feel like the final straw. How can you possibly keep up with everything your teen is doing on all these social networks, particularly Snapchat, where photos disappear 10 seconds after they have been viewed, leaving no trail of what’s been posted?

Sensibly, the folks at ConnectSafely have decided that a little knowledge is a good thing – at least as far as parents are concerned – and they have come up with two new Parents’ Guides to both Instagram and Snapchat. These latest guides join A Parents’ Guide to Facebook and A Parents’ Guide to Google+, which have already been published by ConnectSafely.

“It's important for parents, educators and policy makers to understand how these apps work and how kids are using them,” said ConnectSafely co-director Larry Magid in a press release. “Our main goal is to encourage parents to have a conversation with their kids about how they use these services,” added co-director Anne Collier.

This last point is reinforced by the common sense approach that the ConnectSafely authors take in the guides. They are not meant to be manuals on how to use the apps, nor are they meant to alarm parents with tales of sexting and other misbehavior. Instead, the guides go out of their way to reassure parents that the apps are almost exclusively used for friendship and fun.

While there is potential for misuse with both apps, and the media has been quick to jump on the salacious possibilities, there is little evidence to suggest that teens are using them in this way. As the Snapchat guide points out, you only ever hear about the plane that crashes and never about the tens of thousands that land safely.

As always, the key to safe smartphone use – and parental trust – is communication. It’s only by talking to our kids that we can figure out their maturity levels and what’s appropriate for them in terms of safety, privacy and time management. An open dialogue not only means that they will keep you in the loop on all the cool technology they are using but also that they are more likely to come to you when they have a problem.

A Parents’ Guide to Instagram and A Parents’ Guide to Snapchat are produced by ConnectSafely and can be downloaded here.



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