Snapchat is a new photo sharing app that users have downloaded to essentially face-time while they text one another. One user sends a photo with text or a doodle to another on a timer, the recipient receives the photo – but can only view it for the allotted number of seconds set by the sender.
While this tool can be fun and certainly very entertaining, there are a few things that you should be wary of – especially if your kids are using it.
The most important thing that parents should be aware of is the appeal that the impermanence of these photos might have. If you know the recipient is only going to be able to see your photo for a few seconds – the more likely the sender is to take photos of more extreme things sillier faces, more awkward situations, and in many cases – more suggestive material. Yep – we went there – teenagers are using Snapchat to sext (or send sexual content in the form of a photo message).
The other thing you should know – and that your kids should know, is that the photos can be easily retrieved by the recipient. All they have to do is take a screenshot of the message before it disappears. This means that none of the photos sent on Snapchat are truly private – they can be shared anywhere – just like any other photo. Snapchat claims that the sender is immediately notified if a screen shot is taken… but at that point the damage has already been done.
Here are a few helpful questions that you may want to be asking your kids if they’re using the app.
Filter 1: Would you be sending the photo if you knew that it would live longer than 1-10 seconds?
Filter 2: Does sending the photo you’ve taken convey a sexual message?
Filter 3: Are the messages you’re sending something you would feel comfortable if your parents saw it?
Hopefully they’re just sending silly faces – but it’s an important conversation to have, and one that you won’t likely regret!