For those of you who don't know what SnapChat is, it's a free app where you send photos to friends, but they can only see it for 10 seconds before it is gone "forever." When I first heard about this, I thought it sounded dangerous, and also seemed like it would have been created for "sexting" (sexy texting, for any parents who are not tech-savvy!). This article uncovers that YES, that's exactly why it was created... by creepy guys who objectify women, lie in their marketing, and have users believe that their photo is deleted after 10 seconds when in fact it's stored in multiple places forever. What really gave me chills was that SnapChat was created with the intention to sell.. which means all photos (good or bad) will one day be in the hands of someone else.
I've also heard (couldn't find the source - sorry!) that people have already figured out how to hack that system to recover the photos that should be gone for good.
The article also links to a heartbreaking story of a teenage girl who made a dumb mistake when she was younger by uploading racy, albeit clothed, photos of herself, only to have the private account hacked and the photos sent EVERYWHERE on the Internet.
Parents, please talk to your teenagers about these dangers! With my own eyes, I have seen teens I know personally post totally inappropriate things (photos or words) on Twitter, Facebook, Ask.fm (horrible website) and Instagram. If they are doing it on sites where those posts are not deleted, it's SO important to talk to them about SnapChat too! I have heard stories of girls who have had contact with our ministry or kids in our ministry make these exact mistakes - it's so sad how our culture conditions young women to believe that revealing photos are sexy and alluring (shall we call it "Miley Syndrome," perhaps?), but as soon as it backfires they are labelled with a whole slough of incredibly offensive and degrading terms by the same people who first told them they were beautiful, had great bodies, etc.. It breaks my heart!
Parents, if you don't know what social media websites your teen is using, or how you can monitor that usage, I would LOVE to hear from you!!! Please, even if you only know me because I sent you the link to the blog in an email, please, please shoot me an email in return! I try and check in with our teens on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter... and I do occasionally scroll through Ask.fm accounts as well. There are many more sites than this, but 99% of our teenagers are on at least one, if not all, of these four websites. I would love to partner with you to teach your children about the dangers of social media usage!!!