One of the sessions I took at the 2:1 Conference last weekend was about technology in our homeschools. I learned about a new app, which really isn’t new but I had never heard of it. It’s called Snapchat and apparently it is extremely popular among teens today. I came home and asked my 13-year-old son about it. He said yes he knew about it and could he get it? All of his friends had it. I said absolutely not!
A couple of years ago when many of my friends started using Instagram, I downloaded it on to my iPad and was going to look into it. But before I even had a chance to, I realized that through the “cloud” it had gotten onto my son’s iPod and he had set up an account for himself and was already using it! He was sending pictures to complete strangers and receiving pictures from them. Thankfully nothing bad was sent or received, but because young teens (and some older teens) don’t have much discernment about these kinds of things I knew that we needed to stop that immediately at his young age. We had an important and fruitful conversation. I deleted Instagram and decided not to use it at all even for myself.
Now kids have completely bought into the Snapchat idea. They send pictures and videos to each other which are supposed to disappear after certain amount of time. This, of course, increases the likelihood that they will be sending something that that isn’t as carefully thought out because they think it will be deleted soon anyway – compromising pictures and videos of themselves. You will see below that we cannot trust Snapchat as a company. And we must protect our children from the dangers of these practices.
Why was Snapchat created in the first place? According to businessinsider.com:
“The app they built allowed people to send self-deleting photos, fixing the problem of having embarrassing pictures — sexts, mostly — come back to haunt you.”
“What Snapchat really does is they give the user an illusion of security, having them think their information and pictures are private while they are actually not. The very reason people use Snapchat is to send a picture or video to a friend with the security of the file never being seen by the light of day again. This is, however, an impossible task to do when one is introduced to the fact Snapchat holds every single picture and video on their servers. There is no legitimacy behind Snapchat, nor is there any truth behind the concept.”
“Teens are at risk because the pictures and videos they share actually have a very high chance of being exploited. ”
And, no we can’t trust Snapchat to “do the right thing”, because in 2013 they compromised the user names and phone numbers of 4.6 million of their own users!
Please keep open lines of communication with your children about apps and technology. More important than just saying they can’t use a particular app or play a particular video game, is to help them grow in their character. They will be leaving our homes in a few years. They will need to be making these decisions on their own. And we need to help them make the right decisions and understand the dangers of technology and that we live in a fallen, immoral world. Help them know that nothing in the Internet world is private, nothing in the Internet world is deleted, and that their decisions now can very possibly come back to haunt them in the future.
If you have experience with Snapchat, please leave a comment below and let me know about it. I am always looking to learn more.
Thanks for this info Gena. My older teen uses Snapchat with her best friend who lives long-distance and they just send funny pics to one another. I hadn’t thought about the potential for exploitation!
I would think that it could be fine for certain mature kids, as long as they are thinking that every picture they post could possibly end up somewhere. Then, they might be cautious enough. Most kids aren’t that mature, though. And I worry what my kids’ friends might send them!
I read an article some time ago revealing that Snapchat was developed for the purpose of collecting sexts from college girls who mistakenly believed their pictures would disappear forever. I think all parents and teens need to be warned about this app and its misleading claim. Nothing on the web ever disappears *completely*. Ever.
Wow–that is just horrible! Let’s keep informing parents and teens.
Shirley Wood says
Thanks so much for taking the time to publish this important information. I have been curious about Snap Chat because my 12 year old grandson uses it. I have been wondering about it.
IMO, if you do your job right as a parent and teach discernment, Instagram shouldn’t be a problem. No following strangers, private your account. I don’t even see the point of Snapchat for legit (non sex-ting) purposes, but if you only Snapchat friends who wouldn’t send that stuff, it shouldn’t be a problem. For example, Facebook can be bad if you talk with strangers, or it can be good communicating with old friends.