The Dark Side of Snapchat and Teens

Wayne’s background in life coaching along with his work helping organizations to build family-friendly policies, gives him a unique perspective on fathering.

Snapchat is an application for mobile devices that allows users to send photos and videos (called snaps) to other users. However, unlike with photos or videos sent via text or email, those sent on Snapchat disappear seconds after they’re viewed-the sender gets to decide how long a photo will “live,” from one to 10 seconds, after it’s viewed.

Overview

The idea of Snapchat is that users can send time-limited photos that might be embarrassing or just silly without a significant fear that it will find its way to other social media sites where it might live forever.

Sounds good, in theory, but the problem is that there actually are ways to capture and recover images, which is why no one should develop a false sense of security about sending them.

The Origins

Snapchat was developed by Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, two Stanford University students who felt emoticons weren’t sufficient to transmit the emotion someone might wish could be sent with a text message.

But they were also nervous that a quick snap of a cellphone camera showing a particular emotion might end up being inappropriate for a social media site where the picture could be posted for all the world to see. Thus, the concept of a time-limited photo-sharing application was born.

How SnapChat Works

Once the Snapchat application is downloaded from the App Store or from Google Play, the user registers and sets a password. It then accesses your contacts on your cellphone to load friends to the application, or you can add other friends beyond your contact list.

Once you load the app and log in, you can take a photo, edit it, add a caption, or other “doodles.” Then you select the friends to send the photo to and set a timer from one to 10 seconds. After the photo is sent, the receiver has the time set by the timer after they access the app to look at the photo before the message “self-destructs.”

Popularity

Snapchat is wildly popular, with 41% of teens ages 13 to 17 using the app, according to 2015 research by the Pew Research Group. ? ? Consider these stats, compiled http://www.hookupdate.net/escort-index/springfield by Omnicore: ? ?

  • In 2020, Snapchat had an average of 218 million daily active users that generated over three billion snaps a day.
  • Active Snapchatters open the app 30 times a day.
  • More than 60% of active Snapchatters create new content on a daily basis.
  • On average, users spend 49.5 minutes a day on Snapchat and send 34.1 messages a day.

Parental Concerns

Despite its popularity, parents are right to be concerned about Snapchat-there are a host of issues that can compromise kids’ safety. ? ?

First of all, for parents who monitor their children’s smartphone use, Snapchat doesn’t save pictures and messages sent so you can see them later. If you have a software package that allows you to see the content of your child’s phone remotely online, you won’t be able to see what was sent and then automatically deleted. That may raise some concerns.

Secondly, while the photo message disappears from the phone after a few seconds, it doesn’t prevent the receiver from snapping a screenshot of the photo while it’s live.

To Snapchat’s credit, if a receiver takes a screenshot of the photo, the sender is notified, but that may not be enough to prevent the photo from being shared later with others.

In addition, if a receiver knows that a message is coming, they could take a photo of the screen with another phone or digital camera and the sender would never know that their supposedly evaporating photo would be alive and well on someone else’s device.