App Chat – Snapchat, Are Your Kids On It?


 

 

 

 

Parents, its been in the news and the buzz is that Snapchat can be used by teens to aid in private sexting sessions. Available in the Apple App store and on Google play, Snapchat is available for Android and iOS devices and is an image sharing app where images can be taken, drawn on and shared quickly with friends using the app. For brevity, the argument is that while the app claims to give users only seconds to view an image, teens can still take screenshots of images and share multiple places.

 

In the App Store 12+


I began studying this app by reading through the reviews found in the app store. A bit concerning were the top reviews found for the time period were from individuals requesting “sexy” or “dirty” pics!  Therefore, the app was rated for 12+ for the potential problems with mature content, specifically:

 

-       Infrequent/mild profanity or crude humor

-       Infrequent/references to drugs and alcohol

-       Infrequent/mild mature suggestive themes

-       Infrequent/mild sexual content or nudity

 

 

I Signed Up!

First, let me say, the idea is great and I can say I had a ton of fun working the app. I can see a lot of uses outside of just goofy images to friends. Sign up was fast, easy, and clean without a ton of features that block usage as was intended by the creators. However parents, here’s what you need to know if your child is using the app.

 

  • Sign up is extremely easy, even for a very young child.
  • Within the app, kids can link to all of their contacts using the app or invite all of their contacts into the application.
  • Images can be modified adding comments, good or bad.
  • Images can be screenshot, despite the instant elimination feature. THERE IS ENOUGH TIME TO SNAG IMAGES!
  • There are no rules in the Terms of Use against sexting with others.
  • Snapchat offers no real deterrents against inappropriate image taking.

 

Who Can They Share With?

Users can allow the app to access all of their contacts and then they have the option to invite those within their contact list to join the app. To me, this option will always pose a threat for teens. Invites and connections are made too easily.

 

 I Took a Pic, Now What?

Once an image has been snapped, users of the application can draw or add text on top of it before sharing it. This adds concern that kids may add inappropriate words or shapes to tease others.

 

However, the biggest threat to a child’s safety is that while the app may delete an image that has been shared within seconds, there isn’t anything keeping the recipient from taking a screenshot of it. The homepage of the app suggests users would have to be very quick to be able to take screenshots, but, I am not nearly as fast as a teenager at taking and sharing images, and I did it……easily.  Simply put, what this function allows is that if your child decides to send an illicit image thinking the automatic delete function will protect them, whomever they sent the picture to can take a screenshot of it and keep it or transmit it as they wish inside and outside of the app wherever mobile image uploads are allowed.

 

 

Just Tell Them Something!

Finally, although I do like the app, I am a bit disappointed by their Terms of Use recommendations. Snapchat states simply to “Have Fun” and to basically not use the app to share or transmit spam, viruses, bugs, racist remarks, threatening content or unlawful content. Yet, if they can specify no racist remarks, then certainly they can specify “no sexting”. Considering the media has accused this app of being THE “Sexting App”, I would think they would try and encourage teens to stay clothed and make smart digital decisions.

 

Best Advice to Parents.

Parents, because the app doesn’t automatically save the images, going through your child’s phone to find any images may not help identify if they have inappropriately used the app.  My suggestion would be to sign up for the app. While signing up and letting the app identify potential friends from your contact list, if your child’s name pops up, be certain to add them as a friend. I would think that seeing mom or dad’s name in the friend-list would make them aware that you know what is going on. At least that’s how it worked for me. Yes son, mom is using Snapchat. :)   Snap ya later!