Number 1 App today as promised and the rest to follow. This cute, innocuous little fellow is the symbol of Snapchat! Snapchat is an app that allows users to take pics and send them to others. You can do this on your phone without the app, so what is the difference? With Snapchat before you send the pic you set a timer which allows the receiver to view the pic for a set time, anywhere between 1 and 10 seconds. Once viewed the pic supposedly disappears.
Why do teens love it?
It is a fun little app and produces lots of laughs. There is a sense of mystery and ‘naughtiness’ as pics disappear as if by magic. Teens send lots of cheeky, crazy pics of themselves to each other! Snapchat captured the teen’s need to be just outside the boundaries with their slogan, ‘It ain’t Facebook’ just at a time when teens were feeling the squeeze with everyone and anyone getting on the Facebook train. It’s easy to get started, no more filling out forms to register, just an email address will get you started. And it has a creative edge. You are taking the pic and deciding who to send it to, and for how long. It gives you control but is safe from judgment because the pic vanishes right before your eyes. It’s interactive and socially connective – perfect for teens. It’s spontaneous and ‘a bit out there’ and Mums and Dads don’t do it! Lastly there are no advertisements. This makes it feel less corporate and more edgy!
Why should parents be concerned?
It is the type of pics that teens might send without thinking that can be a worry. Think sexting. It seems ideal doesn’t it. You can send those pics and with no regrets! But be warned there are ways around the ‘vanishing pic’ claim that the app is premised on. If you screenshot the pic immediately it arrives, you have a copy of the pic on your camera roll forever. If you take a pic of the shot with another phone you again capture the pic. You can save these pics, or send them on or post them on Instagram or Facebook. There is also no way of knowing who might be with the person at the time you are sending the snapchat. In other words who else might see it?
What can parents do?
Talk to your teens about the pitfalls. Take every opportunity that you can to engage them in a conversation about the possibilities and the consequences. Resist telling them what to do or how to do it. Teens switch off when parents lecture. Steer them towards information about Snapchat. Ask them about it, what they think about it, what they know about it. Talk about their privacy settings – they should ensure that only people they know can send them snapchats and they in turn should only send to those they know.Don’t be put off when they brush you off with, ‘It’s okay Mum, I know all about it.’ – unfortunately they usually don’t!