Okay… Who wants to talk about Snapchat? I’ve received quite a few questions about Snapshot lately, so I thought I’d take the time and address them. So what is Snapchat?
Snapchat is an app that allows you to “snap” a photo and posted it to text. The selling point of the app is that the photo disappears after 10 seconds. It’s a visual chat– a kind of “freeze framing” a specific moment in time. It’s all about spontaneity and no impulse control. Just what kids need more of–right?
The app creates the illusion that the information you send will be secretive and then disappear forever. This is certainly attractive to young kids, who are tempted to send things that are a bit risqué. They feel a false sense of safety in doing so, since their content will magically disappear. Right? Wrong….like everything else on the internet, it doesn’t disappear. The receiver of the information can easily take a screenshot of what was sent, hold on to it and then share with whomever they choose. This app is also becoming a big tool for cyber bullies because they can send and hide behind a mean message/photo and then “poof” it’s gone. Leaving the receiver in a state of shock. Numb and upset by what they just saw. It’s damaging, hurtful and can negatively affect ones’ self-esteem and sense of self -worth.
As an adult, I can somewhat see the value in a tool like this. However, I don’t think I’ve ever texted something that needed to self destruct in 10 seconds like I’m a character from Mission Impossible. However, I CAN see this as a smart marketing tool for businesses sharing information about last minute sales with values customers, pop-up events or secret coupon codes. It can certainly build brand loyalty. But, let’s be honest; teens are the ones mostly using this tool.
Personally, I think there should be stricter requirements attached to opening Snapchat accounts. The only requirement is that you must be 13 years old. That’s still too young. I think it’s more dangerous than kids are realizing. Encouraging impulsive actions that can have a lifetime of repercussions sounds like a recipe for disaster. As a parent, you need to check out the app and decide for yourself. Here is a good video about Snapchat to help you get started.