"Photo-sharing apps have become the most popular way of communicating between teenagers. This photo-messaging app allows teens to send pictures with a 1-10 second time limit before the picture self-destructs and disappears never to be seen again. The concept of SnapChat is to send quick pictures of yourself, others, or funny things to a friend, or a really cool place you are at the moment like on a vacation to Hawaii, whatever. After the picture is viewed, the temporary moment of immaturity or complete randomness is gone forever. So, users can send time limited photos that might be embarrassing or just silly, or even sexy pics without a significant fear that it will find its way into the hands of mom and dad. Yup. Think about it like this: No trace of pictures for mom and dad or anyone to see. The person gets the photo, a little 1-10-second look, and then it's like it never happened.
Another negative of having this app is bullying. Since the app allows pics to be shared within groups, teens can share derogatory pics with each other throughout the day. You could just be walking down the hall and quickly snap a pic of someone without them knowing, then with SnapChat’s new drawing features, draw derogatory comments next to the picture to send to a user. SnapChat could intensify cyber bullying because more teens would be willing to engage because the picture will self destruct. Someone can send a picture with some mean words to your child for just 3 seconds, just long enough, to belittle them and make them feel worthless, and there would be no proof of this action. What about cheating? There are a growing number of teens using Snapchat for cheating on tests. Students quickly take pictures of their test answers and SnapChat it to other students in the class. Some youth are asking for their friends to take a snap of their finished homework answers and to send it back to them.
I am not saying that everyone is using it in a bad way. Sure, it’s all about the faces. Teens love to make faces – silly faces, happy faces, ugly faces – and SnapChat them to each other. It is a way to increase their self-expression. But what about the time they are spending doing it back and forth? Are our teens misusing their time through disguised distractions? We have been counseled that computers should be placed in an open, common area and not in our children’s bedrooms. How many kids nowadays have internet on their phone and are staying up way late into the night checking Facebook or SnapChatting their friends just lying in bed with free reign? Do you really know? What about homework, family time, and just plain getting to bed on time for good health and a clear mind?
The Bottom Line: SnapChat probably can be a fun and engaging app when used appropriately. But it should be used carefully and with very specific ground rules or not used at all. Apps like SnapChat remind parents that we need to be vigilant about our children's phone use and to monitor their activity to prevent problems like sexting or bullying or other elements of the "dark side" of phone use by our children. Another parent told me that some teens are sending “DP’s” (dirty pics) ie: nude snaps of themselves and using the SnapChat drawing device to color over or “cover” the obvious body parts exposed. When I found out about the “DP’s”...Yes, at our good ole’ Morgan High School…that kids are talking about and sending to each other, I felt this need to make my voice heard and also to discuss this with my own children. I found out that you can check their usage by clicking on their user name and see how many pics are being sent and who their top 3 people are. You might be amazed. Parents need to set up ground rules regarding the usage of the app. No inappropriate pictures or language describing pictures or cyber bullying.
From my standpoint, it is sometimes helpful to see this not as just a social issue, but as a drug, because the addictive mechanism is clearly part of the danger when teenagers habitually are using the social network.
We should expect more from our children. We should expect them to make good decisions for themselves, regardless of how easy technology makes it for them to do otherwise. My hope is that you will take this knowledge and use it to leverage your vigilance at home. Keep an eye out for this app on your child’s iPhone, iPod or iPad. If you see that they’ve downloaded it, chances are it’s time to sit down and have a serious conversation about the consequences of what might happen and importance of time management and priorities....you know “What Matters Most”.
We should monitor what our children are watching and doing, but perhaps even more importantly, strive to keep the lines of communication open so that our children will talk to us when they are exposed to inappropriate material. This sometimes requires a delicate balance between giving our children enough information to be aware of potential problems and not giving them so much information that they are curious or unduly alarmed.
Mom and Dad, it’s time to check out your kiddos phone and get rid of the SnapChat app or at least have the courage to monitor the usage and what is being sent!!
Thank you so much for your time. If I at least helped one person today, then I have made a difference!!! I love my kids and I know you love yours as well.
“What the world really needs is courageous parenting from mothers and fathers who are not afraid to speak up and take a stand.” Larry R. Lawrence
From: A Concerned Parent in Morgan, Utah