Are your kids part of the Vanishing Web? Better find out

Snapchat was the target of the first real hacker data leak of 2014, with data on 4.6 million members taken and posted online.  It happened during the holidays; perhaps you missed it. Or perhaps you don’t know what the heck Snapchat is. Now would be a good time to find out, particularly if you have kids, work with kids, or care about kids.

Snapchat lets kids send texts and (dirty?) pics that self-destruct in a few seconds. Go ahead, the software nudges — send it.  We’ve eliminated the regret!

Snapchat an attempt to make the Internet secret again.   At least, secret from boring old people.  This is why you should know about it. It’s part of a disturbing tilt in the cat-and-mouse game of kids and their technology vs. parents and their ability to parent.

It’s no secret that kids regularly stay one step ahead of their elders when romping online; that’s as old as the Web itself. But a new crop of tools, headlined by Snapchat, have given the kids a huge advantage lately, a trend Ana Homayoun is calling “the vanishing act.”

Homayoun is an expert on tech and kids, and she’s penned a fantastic piece you should read.  In it, she chronicles the list of new technologies being used by young people as part of the vanishing web.  It was already hard enough for parents to stay on top of the various social media services their kids use; now they find themselves chasing ghosts. How can you patrol your kids’ texts if they self-destruct?

Homayoun’s take is fresh. She argues that through a combination of factors, we’ve driven kids to the shadows.

“Many kids feel the Internet isn’t fun any more. We’ve created so much fear around getting caught that we’re pushing them into hiding,” she writes. Parents and teachers need to use the same tools their kids use, but not to merely stalk them — instead they need to engage in a continual dialog, and appreciate the nuances of each tool, and each kid.  Ignoring the problem isn’t an option; neither is just saying no.  We live in a complex world now; adults need to deal with it in a way that doesn’t simply push kids towards the next Snapchat.  An invisible kid is a dangerous, and endangered, kid. 

Houmayoun is also author of “The Myth of the Perfect Girl.”

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About Bob Sullivan 1638 Articles
BOB SULLIVAN is a veteran journalist and the author of four books, including the 2008 New York Times Best-Seller, Gotcha Capitalism, and the 2010 New York Times Best Seller, Stop Getting Ripped Off! His latest, The Plateau Effect, was published in 2013, and as a paperback, called Getting Unstuck in 2014. He has won the Society of Professional Journalists prestigious Public Service award, a Peabody award, and The Consumer Federation of America Betty Furness award, and been given Consumer Action’s Consumer Excellence Award.

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