Oh hello. It seems like every day I’m having a conversation with friends about social media apps. And I know this is a photography blog but today I’m sending out a PSA on my least favorite app for tweens and teens. Snapchat. If you have a teenager, you’ve heard of this app … your kiddo probably already has the app (or is begging to get it because, you know, all their friends have it). But my advice — don’t download it. It’s a terrible app for tweens and teens (or a great app to hide things from your parents).
If you have a toddler — it’s cute, they will love it … and you can have it on your phone and they will take cute little selfies. But if you have a teenager or someone who thinks they are a teenager … think twice before you download it. Your older kiddos are NOT using the filters. Most of them think the filters are lame.
Oh I know, your children are angels and only use Snapchat for the silly filters. They aren’t bullies nor would they ever be bullied. They make good grades in school, they are active in sports and have a great group of friends. You follow them on Snapchat and their account is “private” where only their friends can send them snaps. Ooookay. You can stop reading … because this post is for families who have kids that are all those things but also jerks from time to time. And if you think you know all about the app, trust me, you don’t. The experts on this app are our children.
We’ve had an issue (or two) with this app so I made myself as much of an expert as I could. And thank you to my sister who downloaded it so we could send things back and forth and test out every setting we could. I didn’t know what a Snapchat story was until January!
Here’s the long and short of it:
1. All text messages received and sent delete immediately upon closing a chat. So if your child is being bullied, you’d never know. Your sweet child might be the bully, and you never know. Their boyfriend (or girlfriend) could ask them to send inappropriate pictures and, you guessed it you’d never know. Why don’t children just text on iMessage?
2. You can send pictures through the chat and they do NOT show up on their phone camera roll. They can also say how long the image appears to the other person — from one second, to ten seconds or infinity. And you can screenshot. It’s hard to do in one second — but in two seconds, it’s easy. Here’s an example — your sweet innocent daughter sends a picture of her boobs to her boyfriend who she is certain she is going to marry. And she puts the image on a two second viewing … and he wants to be able to see it forever, so he screenshots it. I’m sure he won’t show it to any of his friends.
3. Your children can block you (or anyone) from their stories.
4. Your children can have more than one account and you’d never know. There isn’t a limit. So — they can have an account with just their significant other where I’m SURE all the pictures they send are completely innocent. Or they can have two just because. While you’re at it — you should ask your child how many Instagram accounts they have!
5. Your children can rename a friend to anything they want — so, even if you check their phone to see who they are chatting with, it may not be who it says they are. It can be a random nickname or a gender neutral name.
6. Private accounts don’t really exist. Your children can be contacted by their “friends” but do you know how many of our children are meeting “friends” on YouTube or Musically or other apps? It’s easy for them to just “add friends” by knowing their user name.
7. 12 year old boys ask for pictures of nudes. Yes. Yes they do. I know — not YOUR boy. But, just think back to your hormones as children and be so thankful we didn’t have these apps to deal with! And you can talk all you want to your children about not sending naked pictures but you know what … they listen about as well as we did when we were kids.
8. Their location shows unless you manually go in and change it to ‘Ghost Mode’. And who can see their location? You got it — all of their “friends.”
Here’s the thing … not all kids are making mistakes with this app. But before you allow it on their phone just know what you’re up against!