Parents' guide to Snapchat: What to know to keep children safe

Parents' guide to Snapchat: What to know to keep children safe

10/24/2021 6:50:00 PM

Parents' guide to Snapchat: What to know to keep children safe

For many teens, Snapchat is appealing because the snaps disappear. But that's not always the case.

shared that her 16-year-old son, Sam, died of a drug overdose after “a drug dealer connected with him on Snapchat and gave him fentinyl (sic) laced Xanax.” Some parents felt stunned by the ease in which the drug dealer targeted Sam on Snapchat.As parents continue to be curious about what Snapchat is and how it is used, TODAY spoke with experts about what parents need to know about the social media app and how to help their teens navigate it.

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What is Snapchat?Snapchat is a social media app that allows people to send messages, aka snaps, which can include videos or photos. People can share snaps more publicly in a story or to private, personally selected contacts. While it works somewhat like texting or Facebook Messenger, snaps disappear immediately after viewing.

Feb. 9, 202105:11Helping children navigate social media can be tough, but that’s why experts agree that parents should closely supervise teens when they first start.“This is our chance to talk to them about what’s great about social media, what’s challenging about it, what’s poisonous about it and get them to see social media in a more nuanced way,” Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a parenting expert, told TODAY Parents. “Some teens are savvier about social media than adults are.”

1. Be clear about who teens can talk toParents should talk to their children about whom they are speaking to on social media.“This is one of those things that parents should consider — is your child ready to handle ‘sliding into their DMs,’” Dr. Candice Jones, an Orlando, Florida-based pediatrician, told TODAY Parents. “People can portray themselves as someone they’re not.”

While Jones says most teens use Snapchat with their friends, the app makes it easier for them to chat with people they don’t know. Teens need to understand that some unsolicited messages might come from untrustworthy people.“They may not be someone your age. They may be a predator grooming you,” she said. “We definitely need to tell our kids that you only talk to people you know. So a friend at school that you told me you guys want to follow each other or family (that's OK). Don’t accept requests from random people.”


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You’re a little late… teens aren’t really on Snapchat anymore. Keep up.

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