For teens Facebook used to be the cool place to interact with their friends online. Well Facebook is becoming “uncool.” Just last month Facebook acknowledged that they have been seeing a decrease in daily usage especially among younger teens. So if your teens aren’t hanging out on Facebook where are they hanging out online? Facebook’s recent attempt to buy Snapchat for $3 billion is a clue.

What is Snapchat? Snapchat is an app that allows users to communicate using “Snaps” (photos or videos) that only last for 1 to 10 seconds before self-destructing. Kids can send each other things that they know can’t get passed around this way. All traces of what they sent are gone. It’s a novel idea that has taken off to the tune of over 100 million users. The dark side of this is it makes Sexting (sending inappropriate pictures or videos of yourself) feel safer. “The nude picture I just snapped to my boyfriend will self destruct in 5 seconds so it’s ok”, goes the thinking. I’m not saying all kids use Snapchat for this but I want you to know the potential danger. So find out if your kids use Snapchat and see who they’re Snapchatting with. Then start asking some questions about how they are using it. If they start to squirm start digging deeper and find out what kinds of pictures or videos of themselves they’re sharing on Snapchat.

Snapchat is just one alternative to the un-coolness of Facebook among teens. Another big player is Vine. Vine is a video-sharing app that limits the length of the videos you can share to 6 seconds. Unlike Snapchat these videos don’t self-destruct. You post them to your Vine feed much like you’d post a video to your Facebook page. Now 6-seconds doesn’t seem like a very long time for a video but with 40 millions users joining Vine in less than a year the format has been a huge hit. I do admire much of the creativity you can find on Vine. People can pack some pretty amazing things into a 6 seconds video. But there is a dark side to Vine as well. It doesn’t take a lot to find porn on Vine. The thing that concerns me is that much of the porn that is on Vine isn’t from porn companies showing off their latest videos. It comes from real people that are creating porn videos of themselves. I’m guessing they’re thinking, “Hey, it’s only 6 seconds.” If your kids are on Vine you need to know that there is lots of porn available on it. And to make it worse it could be child porn if the teen creating the video is under 18 years old (and I’m betting there is a lot of that going on). This is bad news for your kids on so many levels. So find out if your kids are on Vine and start asking them how they’re using it.

The job of parenting in the digital age can be tough. Everything moves so fast and there is always something new coming out that can impact your kids in a host of different ways. Trying to stay on top of it all can be tough but that’s why we’re here to help. Also, consider installing X3watch on their devices since we recognize that one behaviour often leads to another.