Just when you thought Snapchat couldn’t get any worse

One of the reasons we set up DiaryZapp was to act as a safe introduction to social media for our children. Without DiaryZapp our kids are being thrown into a world of sharing, trolling and stalking from their friends, bullies and total strangers without any tuition at all on what’s right and wrong,  what’s acceptable and what’s not.

Snapchat has had me raising my hands to my mouth in shock and fear for the safety of children out there multiple times this year. The release of SnapMap was horrific to think that users can stalk other users in a real-time way. How the police and cyber crime experts can issue out official warnings about the app and it still not be taken down is beyond me …

So I’d just stopped seething about it when I heard about a new app that can live within Snapchat – this app’s capabilities has once again made me hold my breath and thank god that I haven’t given either Ella or Noah their own phones yet.

Common Sense Media reviewed a piece of app software called Sarahah that works inside Snapchat; they’ve done a really great job of giving the entire low down of what Sarahah is and how it works which you can read here, but to sum it up for this blog’s purpose, Sarahah was initially designed to enable employees to share feedback with each other anonymously, but as is the way of the modern teenager, they’ve gone and found a way to link the app into Snapchat and now you can either comment on any of your phone’s contacts anonymously, or search for other Sarahah users and comment on their feed anonymously.

It’s at the top of the app charts in many countries. So parents need to be vigilant for signs of social media bullying as the anonymous comments can be made any time, day or night.

So how do we tell our children that it’s not ok for a stranger to contact them?

The usual litmus test is when they see their friends doing something, they think it’s safe and ok.

It’s such a shame that these apps get twisted – the essence of Snapchat is a fun way to send video messages. Great you think! And then the inappropriate content occurs, or the cyber bullying increases and once again it’s a Pandora’s Box of a nightmare.

Before we designed DiaryZapp it definitely felt as though as parents we were all constantly backtracking. We were watching people let their kids download all of these apps then running around telling them what not to do and explaining how to act online, which is stressful all round. The worry and concern of any parent trying to explain to their impressionable child that a negative comment doesn’t mean anything and is not the end of the world, is usually futile. Their child’s mind has already been filled with doubts and insecurities.

We’ve worked hard to ensure that the only social aspect of DiaryZapp is the ability to share a diary page with a preapproved family member or friend via the ‘chief adult’. The person who has been invited to view the specific diary page is then encouraged and allowed to leave a positive comment.

We want to nurture and educate our children on how they feel when someone leaves a positive comment on their page and encourage them to do the same for their fellow Zappers.

It opens up opportunities for parents to have conversations about comments and how they make people feel – whether you are made to feel happy or sad when you receive one. And we want people to be having those conversations. It’s crucial to support the next generation of social media users to help ensure that they don’t become cyber bullies themselves, or that they recognise when they are being targeted and act quickly to stop it and lessen the affects of it.

If you are in the throes of dealing with a Snapchat nightmare you can delete someone by following these steps:

Tap the name of the friend you want to delete in the ‘my friends’ page

Press the gear icon that appears next to that person’s name

Press ‘block’ to prevent them from sending any snaps or viewing any stories

Or press ‘delete’ to remove them completely from your friends list

How to deal with Sarahah and Snapchat:

There is an option to turn Sarahah off. As Common Sense Media’s Sierra Filucci said: If kids decide to use Sarahah, they should use the settings to opt out of their name or profile photo appearing in search. They should also opt out of allowing unregistered Sarahah users comment on their accounts as a further line of defense. They should also consider only sharing their profile link with specific people, though they can’t be sure that those people won’t share the link with others.

Please read their Sarahah to be able to understand the potential dangers lurking out there for our children. Also, if you’re concerned about the dangers of the silent bullying that cyber bullying is, then please read my article for Red Tricycle which lists eight of the common signs that your child is being bullied online. Hopefully together we can prevent and cope with this issue.