SnapChat. Ever heard of it? Check your kid’s phone and see if he/she has.
Looks fun. Seems harmless. This friendly little yellow ghost adorned app allows the user to take and send any type of picture. When a person receives it, they can only see the picture for three seconds before it gets deleted forever. Yay!
And it’s crazy popular. A new Survata survey found that “15% of 13-18-year-olds were using SnapChat (a new app) on a regular basis” Great. Send friends pics that disappear. Maybe that’s why Elite Daily, “the voice of GenY” called it “the app that is making sexting simple.”
So, a typical, lacking in wisdom, teen clicks it as a ticket to hang a little on the wild side… thinking themselves invincible. It disappears, right? What’s the harm? Until someone quickly snaps a screen shot, burning a momentary bad decision into the social media history books. And that’s just the pic. What about the devastating psychological issues burned into a young person’s psyche?
SnapChat reviews reveal much. Lest we bury our heads:
- Snap me: “Hit me up. 18/m/straight. Ladies only please, I’ll snap anything.
- Snap chat me!: 13 male… lookin for a nice girl. I got a nice body for those who like ABS
- Girls: 16/m looking for some fun … please dirty or clean … but mostly dirty
- Message Me c: Hey guys Snapchat Me!! @ suckapickle Thanks
- Snap me girls only: Im 17 white M lookin for sexy girls. Dirty pics only, will return the favor
Ick! I think I need a shower.
Granted, not everything about SnapChat is bad. But, unless you’re an “invincible” teen, the app’s danger is quickly revealed. As one mom recently messaged me, “Their innocent minds can’t fathom what pervs are capable of.” Okay, so maybe its our minds that can’t fathom.
When I asked my daughter about the app (which I found on my phone) she quickly admitted to purchasing it.
“Yeah, it’s the new thing.”
Gulp. “So, what does it do?” I ask before I lecture.
“You can take a picture and send it to friends. Then people track you like Instagram. I don’t like it – the same way I don’t like Instagram. There’s all this pressure to have lots of snaps and likes. It really wears me out. … I deleted it.”
Sigh. “Okay,” I replied.
I tabled what would be another sexting conversation for another time. (And let me say that anything purchased on iTunes, we see. When I got the email about a SnapChat purchase, I put it in the category or yet another creative fun way to make pictures look cool. Clueless, I went on with my way without giving it another thought. In fact, I still would be blissfully ignorant without my friend’s heads up.) Grateful for my daughter’s honesty and sad that she has to deal with all this stuff, I thought about my own teen years – full of similar social pressures.
And I was grateful to my friend. I had seen that smiley little ghost on my phone, but didn’t think a thing about it. Until she sounded the warning. Without implying improper motives or use, she shared her own conversation with her kids while signaling an alert to the rest of us.
Therein might lie the key. Keeping each other informed. Watching each others backs. But am I willing to hear? Or am I the first to deny — quick to assume the worst for other kids, blinders on when it comes to mine? (I hope not!) Close friends that tell the truth, even when hurts or seems embarrassing keep it real. Alone, I can never know or see it all.
When I was young, a creepy guy drove around our town in an old red convertible propositioning kids. He created quite the stir. Our moms gathered and put into action a plan. They designated houses on each block to provide a safe haven if a kid felt threatened. So as we walked home from school, we didn’t have to look far to find windows displaying a red helping hand placard. Those signs plus open conversations and warnings gave each of us the tools to be able to navigate choppy waters.
Those moms gave me great comfort without inducing fear or compromising my young independence. In fact it promoted independence and steered us away from being victims to that creep or our own social pressure. Our moms equipped us.
Can we offer the same safety homes for kids these days? Predators still troll. And though they might not be as easy to spot as that red convertible guy, kids still need to be warned and instructed.
But we have to know what’s going on in order to warn.
So when we catch wind of app-danger, by all means share. When we hear about a the latest trend, like synthetic weed, sound the alarm. Let each other know: “It’s called ‘Spice’ and ‘K2,’” because not all of us are up on the latest trends and news. Please tell me: Fake weed, legally sold at convenient stores and smoke shops, looks friendly in bright-colored packaging. Kids consider it safe – a benign high. Not so much. Incredibly addictive, man-made pot causes kidney/brain damage and can KILL them.
Tell me, so I can talk to my kid.
I’ll add it to my steer-clear-of-gummy-bears-that-make-you-feel-weird warning (a.k.a Boozy Bears) and to my “best not to drink hand-sanitizer” (and other crazy ways they get drunk!) conversation. Because who knows what an insecure teen might do to fit in these days.
We need to know.
Let’s at least make sure they’re informed, by keeping each other informed, and aware that someone at home thinks they’re worth a lot more than any popularity-inflating photo or chance-to-fit-in (potentially deadly) high.
Thanks for walking the road with me.
The rapid fire changes in society are just too much to take in…it’s incredibly difficult to keep on top of every latest trend. The children might to remember to hand in their social homework but can certainly give a list of the dozen of so social media platforms at their disposal. Very frightening…I like the band of moms idea!!
Meant to say “might not remember to hand their social…”
WOW!! I feel very old and out of the loops. Thanks for “watching my back.” The next conversation I have with my 18 year old will involve SnapChat.
I work on child and youth issues as a lawyer and academic, but am also a mom of teens so it all feels very personal to me these days. I try to look on the bright side and one bright side to this issue is that this technology can be used in innovative ways to protect young people from domestic violence and abusive dating relationships. One of the biggest challenges for victims is to safely communicate with others without it being traced – this could allow kids, teens (including teen moms) to arrange with neighbors and safe adults to accept their snapchat so they can tell them they’re in trouble and need help without the abuser checking their online activity (because it disappears). For us as parents it just entails facing the need to keep up with the technology, which is of course the major point made above, and then training ourselves to habitually look not just for the risks, but the risks AND benefits to each new technological development impacting our kids. This also helps in communicating with them, so they don’t respond to parental warnings as knee-jerk anti-technology and tune us out. I’ve learned to respect how smart my teens are with this and I can ask them what they think is positive about whatever new thing comes up too, so they understand the social impacts beyond just having the latest trendy thing.
I can appreciate AmericanMom’s perspective about Snapchat, especially since my background is working in the domestic violence field, as well. However, I have to wonder what the percentage of good vs evil is when it comes to the use of such apps. I guess the reality is that we can’t stop the creation of such apps…only educate ourselves and have those conversations with our children. Thank you for the heads up. As if parenting isn’t difficult enough already, now we need an ongoing education in technology! Ugh
I agree with TJskunk – it’s a challenge not just to keep up, but to weigh the pros and cons. Now I’ve just seen how easy it is to preserve Snapchat images – http://gizmodo.com/5978053/how-to-easily-capture-images-in-snapchat-without-the-other-person-noticing
Awesome. It is true a mother should help each other keep an eye on teen.
As a mom of 3 teenage boys, this really hit home. Monitoring social media for my kids feels like a full time job sometimes, but it’s so necessary. The Internet and these apps can be a scary place and our kids aren’t equipped to handle it. And my girlfriends and I follow each others kids and we let the other one know if something looks fishy. It takes a village!