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Teen trend: What parents need to know about 'Snapchat'

Latest photo-sharing app makes it easy to ‘sext’ friends and send ‘self-destructing’ messages and video.

By Charyn Pfeuffer - MSN Living Editor Feb 12, 2013 9:45PM

It’s tough for parents to keep tabs on your children’s’ activity in the digital world. With passwords, it’s possible to access and monitor kids’ Facebook profile pages and photos – a study conducted among 500 social media users revealed that 72 percent of parents have their kids’ Facebook passwords and 43 percent check their pages daily.

But what happens when a hot new photo-sharing app – Snapchat – allows kids to snap and send an image or video that will then ‘self-destruct’ within a window of one to 10 seconds? This kind of one-on-one interaction makes it much easier for kids to hide their online activity from grown-ups.

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Right now, the app is mostly used by teenagers ad college students reports 9News.com.
"It is a novelty, you use it because people use it with you," Devin Pendergast, a tech-savvy teen from Blaine, Minn. told KARE 11.

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Many teens don’t stop to think about their digital footprint, much less how posts and pictures onit could haunt and humiliate in the future.

"Everything is permanent on the internet. Everything you do leaves an indelible mark," Jake DeWoskin, an IT Security Expert with KDV Technology and Consulting, told KARE 11. He says even if you don't screen grab or "shoot the message" with a different device, there are ways to recover it.

And then there’s the hot topic of sexting, or the sending of sexually explicit messages via cell phone or instant messenger.

"A majority of them readily admit that they're using it primarily for sexting," Tech Savvy Parenting author Brian Houseman told ConnectTriStates.com. "In a recent study, 39 percent of all texting teenagers admitted to sending a sexual oriented text message to someone else. Twenty percent of all texting teenagers have sent a nude or semi-nude photograph of themselves."

Houseman says, as parents, it's your responsibility to know what your teen is doing even if it's just sending pictures to his or her friends.

"As parents we have to be very vigilant, very engaged to know, what is it our teenagers are using on their phones, and on their iDevices, and androids, tablets, and those kinds of things and how are they using these devices," Brian Housman told ConnectTriStates.com.

Apps will come and go, but the hard truth is that what gets sent over the internet can last forever.

How do you talk with your kids about social media? What kinds of rules (if any) do you have in place regarding content and usage?

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Photo: Snapchat

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