Cyber bullying has become a sad fact of our daily lives and few weeks go by without some tragic story about the devastating impact of this on a young person’s life. Cyber Safety Lady Leonie Smith looks at Snapchat and the disappearing messages that can cause such harm, then vanish undetected.
Even Kylie Jenner’s admission that she rarely opens Snapchat any more, which caused an estimated $1 billion drop in the app’s platform value, has done little to dent its popularity – especially among kids.
There has been a marked increase in the numbers of primary school children, some as young as seven-years-old, who claim to use Snapchat.
This early adoption of adult apps by younger children is of great concern to teachers, parents and cyber safety educators, who also report increased incidents of online bullying and children being exposed to adult content in primary school.
What is SnapChat?
Primarily a photo/video message app where you can upload a photo or video set to ‘disappear’ after viewing, either to friends/followers or it can be posted publicly. Users can also put several videos or photos together and create a story that friends or followers can see via the app. Snapchat is also a video chat app and has live video streaming.
Photo filters and masks
Snapchat also has facial filters and playful masks that you overlay on your facial selfies for fun. The facial masks/filters have become increasingly sophisticated, and with technological advances will
start to look even more realistic.
Why can’t kids have Snapchat?
- Snapchat is rated 13+ to complywith the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act known as COPPA . COPPA was created to prevent tech companies from harvesting personal data from children. If you are underaged on any social media or app that is rated 13+, your child will be breaking the apps terms of service, and you or your child may have no legal recourse if something goes wrong.
- Snapchat’s ‘disappearing’ messages can be dangerous for children. Some may think if their messages delete after being seen for a few seconds, they can feel safe to send silly or inappropriate photos or videos believing they will disappear with no trace.
- Due to the ‘disappearing’ messages, Snapchat is very difficult for parents to supervise as they cannot easily check up on the content their child is sharing or receiving.
- Snapchat has privacy settings many children are entirely unaware of, and some children are reporting to me that they are getting stranger requests for friendship, their stories and snaps may be seen publicly.
- Snapchat has a ‘Discovery’ section where various media organisations have their publications displayed. These contain some very adult content not rated for children.
- Snapchat also has a public feed, where you can see other content that is posted publicly. This can include adult content.
- Snapchat has a feature called ‘Snapmaps’, a location map where your child, if they don’t have Snapmap switched to ‘Ghost Mode’, can be seen by others they are connected with on Snapchat. Their location can be seen on a map. The dangers this presents are obvious.