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.


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