Educators caution parents about kids using Snapchat

LA CROSSE, Wis. - As social media becomes more and more a part of children's lives, it can be hard for parents to keep up with the changes.

Now there's a new social media app rising in popularity among kids.

Snapchat is kind of like texting but with a twist.

It's only a little more than a year old, but its quickly making it's way up to the popularity of Facebook and Twitter.

Educators in La Crosse say there are some things adults, especially parents, need to know about it.

"I thought it was really cool to be able to send pictures and talk to people that way," said Tes Kirschbaum, a seventh grader at Longfellow Middle School.


Kirschbaum and many of her classmates are now using something called Snapchat -- a fun new social media tool to stay connected.

"I like being able to see the people's faces and you can draw on the screen little pictures with the colors, and send them to all your friends so they know what you're doing and they can send back pictures and you know what they're doing," said Kirschbaum.

How Snapchat works is people can take a picture or record a message using the app to send to their friends. The person receiving the message has a set amount of seconds to view the message before it "self-destructs" but once they're gone, are they really gone?

Seventh grade teacher Jeanne Halderson said that's the million dollar question that could lead to some negative consequences.

"It's a good way to bully kids if you want to bully someone," said Halderson. "You can just snap pictures and send it to them and there's really no way to prove that you're doing it. You can (also) take pictures of yourself in uncompromising situations. I think that also kids tend to throw caution into the wind a little bit because they do know that it will disappear."

But even with the idea that a message could just simply disappear, Halderson said there are ways to see them again.

"I do know that if you sent me something and you gave me a few seconds, I could get a screen shot off my iPhone and I could have it and capture it for myself," said Halderson. "So just because you send it to someone and it disappears on your phone, doesn't mean that you can't actually take a photo of it and who knows what happens after that."

Halderson suggests that if children join a social media site that parents should too.
That way, parents can become familiar with the potential pitfalls.

She also said parents should start talking to children about social media sites at an early age.

By about fifth grade, roughly half the students are using some sort of social media site.

Halderson also said she doesn't see the school changing or creating new rules for Snapchat yet.

As of right now social media is not on any of the computers or other electronic devices at the school and students can get in trouble if they use their personal devices for social media during school hours.

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