I NEVER blame app developers for the inappropriate or even criminal behavior of children who use those apps. I have said and will ALWAYS say that it is our job as parents to: monitor, limit, and consequence the behavior of our children – online or offline. However – this level of hypocrisy just cracks me up….
Snapchat launched a “Snapchat Safety Center” website which is completely covered inadorable cartoon characters just to add to the **barf** of making this app seem innocuous and child safe. Which it isn’t – not by a mile.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at the screenshot I took of Snapchat’s “safety” website below-
Does this cartoon image seem like:
- a website meant to warn users (OVER 13 yo – per US law) about the risks and responsibilities associated with using this app?
- a website ensuring that parents realize that their children are in possession of an adult communication vehicle which requires adult-level maturity?
That would be a resounding NO on both counts.
Everyone knows that Snapchat has a child pornography problem.
Snapchat knows it, law enforcement knows it, prosecutors and judges know it, your kids know it, and sexual predators know it – (but the predators LOVE it). You know who doesn’t know it? Parents.
In February 2015 Snapchat kicked off this “safety” campaign via their “Snapchat Safety Center“.
Is Snapchat hoping that the kids TAKING sexy photos of themselves will read through the “community guidelines” and discover that ‘oh yeah, I shouldn’t take a picture of my junk and send it to 85 of my friends?’ OR is it intended for the parents of said child, to read through the community guidelines (prefaced by a billion cartoon characters) to realize that ‘oh yeah, my tween/teen has NO BUSINESS using this app?’ The same can be said for the other verboten behaviors listed on their site: cyberbullying, self-harm, threats of physical harm, etc.
Get serious Snapchat, you’re not fooling anyone
Yes, it’s MY job as a parent to know precisely what my child is doing online. Yes, it’s my job to make sure that my child is safe and does not accidentally court danger.
But Snapchat, seriously – let’s not pretend that your app ISN’T what it clearly IS. Why does one require an app where an image or message supposedly auto-combusts? What part of our lives requires a self-destruct button for communications? And please don’t give me that feeble, pathetic excuse about users sending each other “goofy” photos.
Snapchat’s single and only raison d’être is to send risque, cruel, and inappropriate photos/communications which supposedly “self-destruct” (except when they don’t).
I would prefer that Snapchat would come out and say: “Look, we all know what this app is meant for. Parents, do us a favor and keep your kids 10 miles away from our app, we don’t want your children here, and we don’t want anyone to get hurt.” Wouldn’t that be preferable than this pathetic display of dissembling?
THE BEST PART: Snapchat can’t even guarantee the single thing it’s meant to do – completely delete photos
Just to take the stupid one step further. Snapchat cannot in any single way guarantee that photos will disappear completely. I can give you about 4 different ways (just off the top of my head) that I can keep every single ‘snap’ sent to me.
Here’s what Snapchat’s so-called “safety center” has to say about their own nondestructable snaps
“Snapchat attempts to detect screenshots and notify the sender, but it doesn’t always work perfectly – and your friend can always capture the image with a camera. “
…and from Snapchat’s own marketing language in their app-store description
“Please note: even though Snaps, Chats, and Stories are deleted from our servers after they expire, we cannot prevent recipient(s) from capturing and saving the message by taking a screenshot or using an image capture device.”
Yes, and this doesn’t even include the 3rd party apps which can ALSO be downloaded (and kids know to use) which automatically save and capture every snap they receive without alerting the sender. DUH
PARENTS: Bottom line
- Children under 13 are not allowed
Children under 13 are forbidden by US Federal regulation (COPPA) from having ANY social media accounts. This includes Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and any/all others. You’re children under 13 have NO BUSINESS USING SOCIAL MEDIA. You will find me resolute in this. I don’t care what the circumstances are – I don’t care if Aunt Helga (with the wonky eye and the hump) can ONLY communicate with your kids via Facebook. The answer is no.
- Snapchat is NOT appropriate for children
Despite the massive number of adorable cartoons on their site, children of any age should not be using Snapchat. Maybe I’m just being a bit difficult, but using an app whose premise is hiding behavior just seems wrong to me in principle. Is this what we’re teaching our children? Do something that you can’t regret later because an app will prevent consequences? How about we just think ahead and don’t do the thing we shouldn’t have done in the first place???? (((sigh))))
- Snapchat can’t even guarantee that their ‘snaps’ will disappear
This just bugs me from a consumers-are-sheep perspective….if a company cannot guarantee that their entire reason for existing, well EXISTS, then how stupid are we as a consumer society? Why not just text the photos? That’s like watching the Kardashian’s on television and NOT expecting to lose a few thousand brain cells in the transaction. What did you think was going to happen?
Did you learn something? **Read. Learn. Share.**
— Jesse “Big Mama” Weinberger
- Click here to learn “Why and how to delete your child’s Snapchat account”
- Click here to see all of my Facebook NOTES – these are often answering specific internet safety questions from parents and Facebook fans.
NOTE: you don’t need to have a Facebook account to see this content.
- Click here to see some of my YouTube videos containing internet safety tips for parents and schools.
Jesse Weinberger is an Internet Safety Expert, Internet Safety Speaker for schools, and the author of “The Boogeyman Exists: And He’s In Your Child’s Back Pocket”; a guide for parents and educators on how to keep children safe in a 24-7 always connected digital society. Learn more about how to keep your children safe online
She has been teaching parents, schools, and students how to navigate online and mobile risks since 2003. Jesse is available for presentations to schools, parents, students, and organizations all over the United States.