iKnow! What’s Trending – Snaps and Pokes

Look carefully and quickly - this message will self-destruct, never to be seen again, in 10, 9, 8… While it sounds like something out of an action movie, it is instead the promise of the latest digital trend; real-time photo sharing. Snapchat and Facebook’s reinvented Poke are downloadable apps that allow users to send messages, photos or videos, with a selected amount of time that the recipient is able to view it (between one to 10 seconds), before the picture self-deletes, forever - at least that’s the idea.

These apps are promoted as a fast, free and fun way to share your world. But users need to be cautious of how much of their world they’re sharing.

Parents: There are two major concerns to be aware of and to discuss with your children regarding these photo apps. Number one, because the recipient is supposedly only getting a quick, sneak peek, the types of images being shared, especially among youth, have become riskier (including pictures/videos of underage drinking and drug use) and racier (taking “sexting” to a whole new level). Another major concern, the one that young people need to know, is that these pictures do not necessarily self-delete forever, as promised. There are a variety of ways these images can resurface, and instead, become embarrassing and self-destructive. For instance, anyone can take a screenshot (a picture of their cell phone or other mobile device screen) at a moment’s notice; that can be saved and forwarded on to the masses. Yes, the sender will be notified that the recipient saved the communication, but by that time the potential damage is already done.

Also parents, don’t be fooled into thinking your child is immune because he/she doesn’t own a smartphone or other digital device. Where there’s a will there’s a way, and because of the overwhelming access and availability of technology, and the desire by youth to remain up-to-date on the latest digital trends, there is a good chance your child is already schooled on this type of photo sharing.

No need to totally panic if your child is partaking. These apps can be entertaining and appropriate. But it is extremely important that you talk to your child about what is ok and not ok to click and send, reminding him/her that nothing shared through these apps or on any other social site, should be considered private. Get the picture?

Is your child new to the cell phone scene or does your child need a refresher on the rules of proper use? Stay tuned for your next Know! Parent Tip where we discuss appropriate cell phone etiquette and provide you with a Parent/Child Cell Phone Contract.