You would not believe the apps that are available to your children and family on their smartphones. The latest craze among young kids and teenagers is an app called “Snapchat”. Snapchat is described as, “…a new way to share moments with friends.” In other words, you can use it to take a picture or video to send to your friends through the app; however, the catch is that the image does not get saved on your phone or theirs and it can only be viewed for a few seconds.
Snapchat is an outlet for people, your children and grandchildren, to send pictures and videos of themselves with no risk of unintended consequences, such as having the photo or video widely distributed. It is abundantly clear that this app is intended for “sexting, ” and that is how it is widely used.
Sexting has become more and more common in today’s culture. It is an indication that pornography is accepted and expected among America’s youth. With the increase in technology use and the advancement of Internet pornography, kids are seeing porn at much younger ages. The average age that a child sees pornography is 11, and four out of five 16-year-olds regularly access pornography on the Internet. Snapchat, and similar smartphone apps, are preying on vulnerable children. In fact, the app is marketed to children. The company advertisements make that clear.
The ads feature photos of young people making silly faces. Snapchat says, “The allure of fleeting messages reminds us about the beauty of friendship – we don’t need a reason to stay in touch.” If beauty and friendship are really important to the company, there is no need for a message to be fleeting.
Recently, I was with a 13-year-old girl and she was innocently “Snapchatting” with her friends. Concerned, I asked why she was using this particular app. “Because, everyone uses it,” was her response. Although she was not using the app to “sext”, I explained to her that it is dangerous and unnecessary. If you want to send a photo to your friend, there is no need for it to vanish seconds after receipt. News articles about Snapchat indicate that young girls feel pressure to send salacious messages because “everyone is doing it” and “no one will see it.”
The popularity of Snapchat makes it abundantly clear that parents still don’t know how to protect their children in our electronic world. Pornography seems wedded to smart phones for many in this world. This app is unsafe and should not be available to children. Parents, if your children must have a phone, make sure it isn’t a porn store, or worse, a means of distributing or receiving child pornography. Because you cannot monitor your children at all times, please make sure you are knowledgeable about all apps available to your children on their phones.
Have a conversation with your family about the harms of pornography and the consequences associated with activities like sexting. You’d be surprised how much children know – many times it is more than you think, so make sure they know the right things!