Huntsville Police identify fallen veteran officer

Teaching your children to stay safe on Snapchat

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -  According to the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office, 46-year-old Thomas Williams has been charged with soliciting a teenage girl for illicit photos on Snapchat.

Experts tell WHNT News 19 that the way we interact is different than in the past.

"Media has replaced our face to face interactions," said Pavica Sheldon, Department chair of Communications at the University of Alabama Huntsville.

Interactions that start with a vibrate or a message tone.

Snapchat is an app where you can send messages, pictures, and videos. Once those snaps are received, they’re supposed to disappear, but that’s not always the case.

"Snapchat is only one of several apps that are designed to communicate in a way that the communication disappears once it’s seen," said Sheldon.

The Limestone County Sheriff's Office arrested Williams on Wednesday.

"I think people should be aware that all of those photos can be saved that the recipient can save the photos even if they disappear from Snapchat," said Stephen Young, a spokesperson for the Limestone County Sheriff's Office.

Pavica Sheldon studies why young adults use social media, she says many times it’s for reassurance and peer validation.

"They will connect with somebody who pretends to be a peer, or pretends to be somebody that supports them or understands them,” she said.

Sheldon said it's particularly common among 15 and 16-year-olds.

"It’s a problem, and anybody can be a victim, especially teenagers when they’re at the age where they are vulnerable and they’re looking for validation."

Sheldon suggests that parents create an account of their own and understand how it works so that they can connect better with their children. Members of law enforcement also see this as the best course of action.

"Parents just need to understand that in some cases if you don’t know how a social media platform works its best to restrict your child’s access to it until you do know," said Young.

Sheldon used an analogy on how to explain to children the dangers of social media. She says it is just like telling them to not take candy from strangers when they’re young, on Snapchat don’t add strangers or send photos to them if you don’t know their identity behind the screen.

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