New Snapchat app worries parents

(NBC) - A popular new smartphone app has some parents worried their children might be sharing too much.

The photo-sharing app Snapchat promises that your photos will disappear from cyberspace after just 10 seconds. With up to 1,000 photos sent per second, Snapchat is taking the smartphone world by storm.

But with most users between the ages of 13 and 24 -- and the app's self-described "juvenille" interface -- experts caution that kids could be using Snapchat in a very adult way.

"I think this kind of an app really gives a false sense of security to teens because there's something very alluring about being able to take risks and do things where there will be no evidence afterwards," explained Liz Gumbinner, p ublisher and editor-in-chief of the blog Cool Mom Picks.

Those risks could include sexting.

A simple Twitter search for the term "Snapchat" reveals numerous tweets from people looking to "sext" with the app.

One example: "Um hit me up with the cleavage on Snapchat. Greatly appreciated."

Another: "Practice safe sexting. #Snapchat"

Law enforcement officials warn Snapchat is not foolproof.

"You could take a second camera and take a picture of it, that person could take that image and then distribute it to millions of people worldwide in a matter of seconds," cautioned Paul Murphy, spokesperson for the Utah Attorney General's office.

In a statement to NBC News, Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel said, in part: "We built Snapchat to give people a fun, expressive and authentic way to have conversations. If a Snapchatter ever receives a snap from one of their friends they find offensive, we recommend taking a screenshot, blocking and reporting the user."

As with any Internet risk, experts say the key for parents is to communicate.

"Talk to your kids about safety and privacy early and often," Gumbinner said. "The Internet is not going away, and it's best to just have the conversation and keep the communication open so that hopefully your kids will make better choices."

 


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