Experts weigh in on dangers of children on Snapchat app


by Staff

Posted on September 4, 2013 at 5:47 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 5 at 7:50 AM

 (KMOV) – An app that allows for millions of users to exchange photos which vanish seconds later is gaining popularity with teens and pre-teens.

Snapchat has been download on Android devices tens of millions of times, according to Google, with millions of its users being children.

The app allows users to exchange photos and videos that vanish ten seconds after they are opened.

Its estimated that 200 million pictures and videos are shared over the platform on a daily basis and some of them are not what children should see or send.

News 4 talked to an expert to learn ways to protect your children from seeing or sending inappropriate pictures on the popular app.

Detective Briged Oldani works for the Missouri Internet Crimes against Children Task Force. She said more and more children are sending pictures of themselves with apps such as Snap Chat.

“It’s their way of flirting, it’s their way of dating,” Detective Oldani said.

Sergeant Chris Bosley said for those younger than 18, the consequences of sexting can be severe.

“Sending a naked image of yourself is child pornography.”

UMSL Information Systems Expert Vickie Sauter has doubts that the images actually disappear after a few seconds.

“It’s still out there on their server... It’s certainly on your phone and potentially on the recipients phone .. And once something is on the internet all bets are off.”

Detective Oldani said a lot of these teens are having a trouble getting into colleges now because these images are popping up all over the internet. She added that keeping an open line of communication open with children who may be experiences troubles.

“You need to reassure the child you are not going to lock them up and keep them from their friends and take the computer or phone away automatically because that’s their life.”

Advice to parents is to know what kids are doing on the internet, get on their phones and look at their apps.

“If it says it’s a game open it up.  A lot of times it’s not a game it’s a chat app or something to hide,” Detective Oldani added.

A new app that was just released automatically allows people you send pictures to on snap chat to automatically save them, without notifying you.

All the experts agree. The changes come so fast it’s impossible to keep up with them all.

Professor Sauter says you should demand that your child’s school have programs to educate the parents, so they know how to protect their kids.