Okay, so what is snapchat? Snapchat is a popular and seamless way of sending and receiving pictures with others. The platform is hugely popular and a relatively new kid on the block in the social media world. It allows users to send pictures with a time limit on them so when the user receives the pictures they only have so many seconds to view it (Up to 10 seconds depending on what is set before sending)
Why do you need to know as a parent? Well…
Girl of 15 killed herself after bullies posted nude shower video on Snapchat.
Hopefully that should highlight the importance of being aware of what your children’s online activity involves. Remember, once your child or one of their friends sends something… It’s out there forever! Most parents may have heard of snapchat, but do you really know how your child is using it? Most young people hide their activity from their parent’s and a lot of parents wouldn’t even know what snapchat is let alone what they are doing on it.
Don’t get me wrong Snapchat is a lot of fun and is a great way of visually communicating with friends:
This is someone receiving a ‘Snap’ off someone else. They have 4 seconds left to view it, in that 4 seconds it does allow you to screenshot the photo. Harmless.
There are many occurrences though where young people misuse the app for ‘Sexting’ or sending ‘Nude photos.’ This is where things can get out of hand. The reason so many young people are using snapchat for sexting is because it’s quick and easy to send a picture and it only lasts a few seconds… right? Well that’ true if the person you send it to doesn’t screenshot the photo. (Snapchat does tell the sender if the photo has been screen-shotted)
There are many social & society based pressures that certainly ‘normalise’ sexting among young people. In the article mentioned in the introduction a 15-year-old took her life because a situation on snapchat got out of hand and she didn’t know what to do. She was overwhelmed with negative comments, which time & time again results in young people isolating themselves from others and trying to ‘deal’ with everything themselves.
As a result of ‘sexting’ there are so many events that can unfold: disconnection with family due to feeling shame and not wanting family members to find out, bullying leading to a complete disconnection from friends and school, self-harm due to not be able to cope, eating disorders can develop and there are so many more! In some cases, it can lead to depression, or even suicide. You may be thinking this is a bit extreme but in reality this can happen to absolutely anyone. All from one photo.
What to do if a crisis occurs?
At this point if your son or daughter has disclosed information about an indecent image it’s important that you remain calm and try not to judge, as a child it would be considered a very ‘brave’ yet shameful thing to say and therefore a huge thing for your child to tell you. This information is crucial and cannot be ignored, reassurance that everything will be okay is vital. There are many charities and organisations out there to help and your first point of contact will be CEOP – Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre. https://ceop.police.uk/safety-centre/Parents
The quicker and earlier you contact CEOP the more they will be able to help. CEOP works with child protection partners across the UK and overseas to identify the main threats to children and coordinates activity against these threats to bring offenders to account. They protect children from harm online and offline, directly through NCA led operations and in partnership with local and international agencies.
In conclusion Snapchat is a great way for young people to communicate with friends, and is ultimately very fun. A few things to try so you can get more of an insight into your child’s activity:
- Build a good relationship with your child and try and create open conversation about social media without it coming across as a ‘lesson’ or ‘rant’
- Allow your child to show you funny video’s and pictures online. Show that you enjoy them showing you different things.
- Go home tonight and ask them to show you what ‘Snapchat filters’ are.
Author: Jordan Simmonds
Date July 2016