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Digital Parenting: Understanding the Risk of Snapchat

By Tim Woda on April 16, 2015 at 3:28 PM

Snapchat started as a college course project, but has grown exponentially in the last year. Now available, for free, through app stores, the application allows people to send and receive pictures and videos directly to their phone.

The "Snap" is only available for a set period of time (about 10 seconds), then it is deleted from the phone and the server. Snapchat seems like a fun enough venture, but for those trying to parent in the digital age, it can be problematic. 

Potential for Sexting

Because Snapchat only keeps photos for 10 seconds or less, parents have no way of really knowing what content their child is swapping. For many years, Snapchat has been dubbed the "sexting app". Although not every person using Snapchat is sexting away, the app didn't get their nickname for no reason.

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Snapchat and Teens: Why Parents Should Be Concerned

By Tim Woda on January 15, 2015 at 5:41 PM

In case you have been out of the loop on the latest and most popular apps for smartphones, one of the hottest apps for tweens and teens is Snapchat. This is an app that allows users can send pictures and videos to other people that disappear within a span of 10 seconds.

Theoretically, this sounds terrific. However, it is possible for other people to capture your Snapchat pictures permanently by simply taking a screenshot of your message. 

Concerns For Parents

An important component of mobile and Internet child safety is knowing what the concerns are for any given technology that your children may be using. There is a pretty long list that one could include when it comes to Snapchat. Lets take a look at some of the security concerns:

    • Anonymous Users - Users are allowed to remain anonymous under whatever screenname they choose to use.

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Snapchat Breach: Sexting Through Apps Is Still a Risky Practice

By Steven Woda on October 20, 2014 at 6:57 PM

In some instances, cell phones offer parents a lot of peace of mind. When your teenager has a cell phone, you know you can get ahold of them and that they have a resource to turn to if danger arises. In this regard, cell phones offer security to today's parents that previous generations of parents would have loved.

However, teenagers can also use their phones to get into trouble, embarrass themselves or even put themselves at risk. As a parent, you have probably already talked to your children about the kind of information they should and shouldn't put online, but sexting through apps has become such a trend in youth, as many believe that these apps are guarding their privacy.  

We have all heard about the dangers of the popular teen app Snapchat, which is an app that allows users to send a picture of short video that allegedly automatically disappears within seconds. With Snapchat, recipients of photos or videos can still screen shot and save images from a Snap. The app is widely believed to be used as an app for sexting, even amongst younger users. 

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Audrie's Law Moving Through California State Legislature

By Tim Woda on May 19, 2014 at 12:34 PM

Legislation has been introduced in the California state legislature that would make it a felony to share sexually explicit images of young people or images of their body parts on social media or smart phones for the purpose of bullying them. It is part of a package of legal changes that would close a legal loophole that makes it a less serious crime to rape someone who is physically or mentally incapacitated than to rape someone who is of clear mind.

The cyberbullying part of the bill is called ”Audrie’s Law” after a young woman named Audrie Pott who died as result of a sexually inspired act of cyberbullying.

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Is Snapchat Actually Safe for Teens & Tweens?

By Tim Woda on May 6, 2014 at 11:55 AM

In the past two years, the Snapchat app has garnered impressive popularity among teens. The nature of the app and the January 2014 Snapchat security breach have caused parents some concern over the safety of the app.  Not only should parents be concerned with these factors, but they should also be privy to Snapchat’s alarming privacy policy and unsettling origins.

For those who are unfamiliar with the app’s features, Snapchat allows users to send and receive pictures or short videos with a set number of seconds to view the videos and photos. After those seconds are completed, the data is erased. Snapchat is notoriously wary of providing the exact number of users of their app, but as of October 28th, 2013 they had roughly 26 million US users. 32% of teens ages 13-17 currently use Snapchat, and 70% of Snapchat’s users are female.

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Digital Parenting: Sexting Incidents Up Among Teens and Tweens

By Tim Woda on May 1, 2014 at 6:01 PM

It seems juvenile that sexting incidents are making news headlines more and more often these days. Just recently, a teen Instagram "sexting ring" with an account containing more than 1,000 explicit photos of minors was discovered in Virginia; the next day, school officials at a Chicago-area middle school found sixth graders were trading explicit photos. Also this week comes news of an eighth-grade sexting ring in Barrington, Illinois.

According to a 2012 study completed by the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 28% of teens have sent a "sext" message. Experts predict that number will only go up as more and more teens own smartphones, which make photo taking, sharing, and accessing the internet easier and faster than ever.

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Digital Parenting: Fighting Back Against ‘Revenge Porn’

By Tim Woda on May 1, 2014 at 11:23 AM

Just another reason to ensure that your teens aren't participating in sexting: exes posting revenge porn. This article was originally published on the Washington Post by Lindsey Bever.

Many of their stories start the same.

She Googles her own name. A Web site pops up, claiming to have nude photos or videos of her posted online for all to see. And, just out of curiosity, she clicks on it.

That’s when she realizes the ex she broke up with forever ago, uploaded the private pictures she once intended for only him. And there’s nothing she can do about it.

Often, her name, address and links to social media profiles are provided as well. And, in some cases, sites created for this reason will charge her a fee to remove it.

It happens to men, too.

This kind of cyber extortion or, at the very least, cyber humiliation, called “revenge porn” has grabbed the attention of lawmakers increasingly seeking to criminalize it.

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Trend Alert: 6 Messaging Apps That Let Teens Share (Iffy) Secrets

By Steven Woda on April 7, 2014 at 11:40 AM

Information-sharing apps are becoming increasingly popular among teens. Learn about which ones are currently trending! This article was originally published on Common Sense Media by their Senior Content Specialist Kelly Schryver.

You probably never thought you'd see the day when Facebook wasn't the center of teens' universe. But keeping up with Facebook friends through ad-filled newsfeeds and lengthy profiles, especially given the fact that everyone knows your name, is starting to feel tiresome to many teens.

Facebook is still a go-to place for many things, such as wishing someone a happy birthday or stalking a crush. However, newer social apps make it easier, faster and more fun to capture and share fleeting moments -- sometimes anonymously. These temporary and anonymous-messaging apps provide an environment that feels more appropriate to the random, silly, saucy, and experimental sides of the average teenager.

Perhaps most importantly to teens, these apps can feel consequence-free. But of course they're not. Data never really disappears, and anonymity carries big risks. If you don't recognize the apps your kid is currently obsessing over, here's what you need to know:

Temporary Apps

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Why Snapchat Should Terrify You

By Steven Woda on March 10, 2014 at 4:02 PM

Children have more ways than ever before to communicate with their friends and family. While living in the digital age has its advantages, parenting in the digital age can be a difficult and confusing process. Each day many apps are added to digital stores. Whether your child is using an iPhone, a tablet, and iPod or an Android device, he or she has access to thousands upon thousands of applications. While many of them are harmless, there are a few apps that pose a significant risk to your child. Snapchat, is one app that, on the surface, may seem innocent enough, but can be extremely harmful. 

What is Snapchat? 

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Are You Really Anonymous on Snapchat?

By Tim Woda on February 6, 2014 at 4:00 PM

This article from the CEO of Hootsuite, Ryan Holmes, is a great look into the security of something that permeates our everyday life: social media. This article speaks about the recent breach in security that Snapchat experienced, along with the danger (and importance) of companies using social media. There are a variety of take aways, but the main one should be if corporations face these kinds of security breaches, so do consumers. Parents and their children are exposed in two ways: 1) as users of Snapchat and 2) as customers of companies that have adopted social media as part of doing business.

This is a not-so-subtle reminder that in the interconnected digital world there are consequences regarding security that could have a direct impact on all social media users. Just as hackers impacted millions of credit card holders through the Target breach successfully stealing their private financial information, we now see millions of SnapChat users impacted by hackers stealing their private personal information. Read the full article below. 

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ICYMI: A Snapchat Security Breach Affects 4.6 Million Users

By Tim Woda on January 3, 2014 at 11:13 AM

ICYMI (in case you missed it) there was breaking news on the Snapchat front this week. Here is an article from the Washington Post detailing exactly what happened.

Snapchat users are waking up to troubling news: Thanks to a gap in the service's security, the phone numbers and usernames for as many as 4.6 million accounts have been downloaded by a Web site calling itself SnapchatDB.info.

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8 Scary Social Networking Sites Every Parent Should Know

By Tim Woda on November 2, 2013 at 1:06 PM

This article was orginally posted on the Huffington Post by Michael Gregg, COO of Superior Solutions.

If you think you're hip to your children's online social habits because you know all about Facebook and Twitter, you've got it all wrong. Tweens and teens are increasingly leaving these sites in favor of new apps that offer richer features and a safe haven from watchful parents.

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Face It, Your Child is Sexting

By Tim Woda on October 31, 2013 at 1:54 PM

Making poor decisions and underestimating their consequences are the hallmarks of being a teenager. Today, teenagers are faced with so many decisions to make every day, it can seem unbelievable that any of them make it into their twenties unscathed.

Getting into trouble while navigating the dating world is nothing new for teenagers, either. However, what is new are all the different ways to communicate: talking on the phone, text messaging, email, facebook, twitter, the list goes on. With all of these avenues of communication available, it was only a matter of time before teens found themselves in trouble because of it.

Sexting is a fairly new term that is used to describe a number of activities. Mainly, it refers to exchanging sexually suggestive or explicit text messages and email, but it also is used to describe exchanging photos or other sexual material, and also forwarding or otherwise sharing the information received with someone else.

What the studies are showing

Researchers at the University of Utah's Department of Psychology conducted an survey of 606 teenagers aged 14 to 18. Twenty percent of the teens admitted to sending a sexual image of themselves using a cell phone. Almost 40 percent said they had received one, and worse, more than 25 percent of those students admitted to sharing the sext with their friends.

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Sexting Warning: New App Defeats Snapchat's Purpose

By Tim Woda on October 16, 2013 at 4:54 PM

A new app has been designed that permanently saves your pics and screws over serial sexters. SnapHack Pro, designed for iOS 7, is an app that saves images without the sender's knowledge, and is sure to annoy the makers of the wildly popular disappearing photo and video sharing tool.

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What I'm Reading: Sex, Teens And Social Media

By Steven Woda on October 4, 2013 at 3:13 PM

This article was originally published in the Huffington Post by Sasha Belenky.

1. 'Social Media Is Destroying Our Lives'

Nancy Jo Sales, who wrote the Vanity Fair article that became the major motion picture "The Bling Ring," is back in the magazine with a look at teenage relationships in the age of social media. Adults may be shocked -- shocked! -- to learn that teens today are obsessed with sex. And Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tinder and other online tools are seemingly robbing America's youth of meaningful, loving relationships.

“We don’t date; we just hook up,” one girl in L.A. tells Sales. "Oral is, like, the new kissing,” says another girl in New York. Boys pressure girls to send them nude photos. “They’re definitely more forward to us online than in person,” says one girl, Zoe. “Because they’re not saying it to our faces.”

A group of friends at the mall sums up the Catch-22: “Social media is destroying our lives,” one girl tells Sales. “So why don’t you go off it?” Sales asks. "Because then we would have no life,” another girl responds.

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Cyber-bullying, Sexting Can Affect Males and Females Differently

By Steven Woda on August 23, 2013 at 2:45 PM

Read this piece from The Hays Daily News that brings up a great point that cyberbullying and sexting can affect males and females differently.

This is the seventh in a series about abuse and violence in adolescent dating and romantic relationships.

Q: What is the relationship between teen dating violence and abuse and technology?

 The following article is based on a 2009 digital abuse study co-sponsored by MTV and the Associated Press. A total of 1,247 respondents ages 14 to 24 participated in an online survey. Digital abuse includes dating abuse and cyber-bullying. The latter term is defined as the use of electronic communication for the purpose of harming another person. Cyber-bullying includes digital communications to manipulate, intimidate, falsely discredit or humiliate other persons. Cyber-stalking is the form of cyber-bullying that involves repeated patterns of cyber-bullying or cyber-harassment. Sexting is a more specific type of digital abuse in which one person sends explicit sexual pictures or messages from one cell or mobile phone to another. All these digital abuses can be found in online dating violence and abuse.

Of the people interviewed (ages 14 to 24), 50 percent reported experiencing digital abuse. Among the teens, girls were more likely to have been targeted than boys at the rate of 53 percent to 42 percent, respectively. The respondents in the survey stated the most common types of digital abuse they experienced were spreading lies (online and in text messages), violation of trust and digital disrespect, mean messages online and in texts.

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Digital Parenting: What Every Parent Needs to Know About Snapchat

By Steven Woda on August 12, 2013 at 6:00 PM

Keeping up to date with the evolution of social media can be a challenge for any parent, but familiarizing yourself with the latest trends is a vital part of digital parenting. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the most popular social media outlets, but there are many less known apps that are gaining a large teen following. One app that is taking over social media is Snapchat. Snapchat, which is used largely by teens and young adults, allows its users to send pictures to their friends that self-destruct after they are viewed. Unfortunately, the promise of a picture disappearing is not entirely true. The person receiving the photo can choose to take a screenshot of it. Even though the sender is notified the screenshot was taken, once the recipient has acquired the photograph how they choose to use the image is out of the original senders hands.

With the allure of a picture vanishing once it is viewed, Snapchat has become an app that is widely used for taking photos of a sexual natures. While parents are aware of sexting by text message, they may not realize their teens have found a new way to send inappropriate images of themselves. Snapchat's advertising as a self-destructing photo app has created a false sense of security in teens and young adults. The reality that the receiver of the image can take a screenshot of the photo and use it any way they want without the senders consent is a consequence a teen may not fully comprehend.

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uKnowKids Featured in Mashable!

By Tim Woda on August 9, 2013 at 1:59 PM

uKnowKids was featured in Mashable in the article "Keep it Clean: 8 Tools to Block Porn and Sexting." uKnowKids can help parents prevent their children from sexting and the dangerous pitfalls that can come with it! Here is it, by Taylor Casti.

If Anthony Weiner has taught us anything, it's that sometimes naughty pics just aren't worth it.

Sexting and pornography can be a problem for parents with teens. For teenagers and preteens, sexting can have major consequences, the least of which being a bad reputation. Nude selfies are still considered child pornography and are against the law. Even if the photo never makes it into the wrong hands, one study shows that teens who engage in sexting are more likely to take bigger sexual risks (such as having sex) that could lead to sexually transmitted diseases or teen pregnancy.

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Snapchat Leaked Screenshot Photos Now Gone From Facebook

By Tim Woda on May 30, 2013 at 2:52 PM

Crucial information about Snapchat and leaked photos from our friends at Phones Review.   

What a week it has been for Snapchat leaked photos and users wanting to learn how to take a screenshot within the Snapchat app, which is a real-time chatting app on both Android and iPhone. The other reason this news has hit the headlines for most majorly news outlets is thanks to the kind of sexting photos appearing on services like Snapchat Leaked.

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Cyberbullying And The Laws That Govern It

By Tim Woda on February 15, 2013 at 12:15 PM

Many people have been asking me if there are any laws or legislation in place to govern cyberbullying.  I have pulled together a list of the states laws on bullying and what they mean in a short blog post below. 

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