Snapchat App – Teen Friend or Foe?
Erasable media is fast becoming the latest social media craze. Users of all ages are attracted to the allure of sending texts or photos that can’t be saved or recorded. Front and centre is a hot new application targeting teens and college students called Snapchat. Snapchat allows users to send photos to other subscribers for a finite period of time. Photos appear, and then quickly disappear, in 10 seconds or less.
Snapchat can be installed on iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and any Android device. You can also download it from App Store or Google Play. Once you download the app and register a username, Snapchat will set a password for you. Then Snapchat automatically grabs your phone contacts and loads them into the app. If you prefer, you can manually add contacts by username.
In the two years since its inception, Snapchat sign-ups have been explosive, especially among 13-25 year olds. 60 million photos and messages a day pass through the SnapChat platform. Fans of Snapchat consider it a fun way to pass the time and stay connected to friends. Some say it’s a more intimate and “real” way to communicate because users don’t have to worry about sending picture perfect messages that will last forever.
Critics say, however, that Snapchat has a darker side to it. At first blush it may seem like a harmless way to have fun with friends but there is definitely a naughty side that could be concerning to teachers and parents.
Many teens admit that they’re using Snapchat for sexting. They take naughty or nude pictures, add sexual texts, and send to other users. According to Brian Houseman, the author of High Tech Parenting, “Technology plays a role in every aspect of a teenager’s life. In a recent study, 39 percent of all texting teenagers admitted to sending a sexual-oriented text message to someone else. Twenty percent of all texting teenagers have sent a nude or semi-nude photograph of themselves.”
The fact that Snapchat messages magically disappear makes it even more enticing for teens to engage in sexting. What they may not realize is that there is a common Snapchat hack that allows photos to be captured and saved by the recipient. Snapchat notifies the sender when this happens but at that point it’s too late, the photo is saved. There is a permanent record.
The takeaway for teens and students? Be aware of the pitfalls of any new application before indulging. Advice for parents? Be aware of new technology and how your kids may or may not be using it.
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