Snapchat and your teen
Is your child using Snapchat? If your child has a android phone, iphone or ipad/tablet, I highly recommend that you check to see if they are using this app, it’s been around for a few months now.
If they are, read this post and then have a chat to your child about what they are doing with the app, and what they are seeing. There have already been over 1 billion photographs taken with this app – that’s quite a terrifying amount.
Is your content really gone?
Snapchat allows the user to take a photograph and add a message and share it.. but it’s gone in up to 10 seconds and (supposedly) deleted from the servers immediately afterwards. If someone tries to take a screen shot then the user gets sent a message – but all that means is they know someone tried to take a screenshot (and possibly has).
There are two schools of thought here. On one hand, if a user is going to take naked or semi naked photos or other unsavoury pictures, then at least they don’t hang around for the rest of their lives or end up on some random porn site or in the hands of pedophiles; but on the other hand is this encouraging children to take racy shots or engage in sexual conversations. Just who are they sharing them with? In my opinion the whole 10 second thing would make this even more exciting for the user and encourage such shots. Further photos may be off all types of other behaviour such as drug taking or violence. What stops someone from using another device to copy the photo?
Is snapchat suitable for your child?
My questions are endless! How can we be sure that the database will not be corrupted and the photographs accessed by hackers? Are we suddenly deciding that sexting is mainstream? What ages are using the app and just what are they seeing in 10 seconds? Childhood should be allowed to be a time of innocence, yet we seem to move more and more towards a very free society in regards to sexuality. It saddens me because the years of our lives that we have to just enjoy the beauty of the world and share innocent play are so short and getting shorter. The excitement of discovering sexuality as children grow through their teens seems to be gone and so much information is forced upon our children at a younger and younger age.
The App itself is rated as 12+ saying it has infrequent mild sexual content/ nudity/drug use – but how do they know what is being shown in 10 seconds? What of the predators who may be posing behind some pseudonym and may send photos which could be quite distressing?
I was speaking to a Mum today who had a 14 year old daughter who happily showed her Mum the app she was using, but she also didn’t show what the photos were. The innocents may just be taking “selfies” but what other risks do apps like this expose our children to?
As parents we make our own choices about what our children are exposed to and at what age. Parenting in these digital times is fraught with challenges, but if we have open dialogue and encourage our children to consider their choices, then we are at the very least sowing a seed which just might protect them in the future.