March 16, 2014

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Snapchat Forever

It’s one of the most popular apps there is today, at least for teens. It’s definitely more popular than Facebook, and many teens would say it’s their favorite app. In some ways it’s actually replaced regular text messaging. If you’re an adult, you may not have guessed it yet, but I’m sure all of the teens reading this are screaming the answer in their mind: SNAPCHAT. 


Teens, let me take a minute to educate the adult world on Snapchat. 


Snapchat was created by two students at Stanford University, Reggie Brown and Evan Spiegal. It was launched in July 2011, and last year really gained a lot of users. It’s been estimated over 8 million, and that number is growing very fast. The founders of Snapchat have turned down a $3 billion offer from Facebook and a $4 billion offer from Google. Yeah…it’s pretty popular.


Snapchat is basically picture messaging. You take a picture of yourself, your friends, something random, or something you’re doing, and you send it to a friend with a text message attached to it. You set a time limit on how long the person you sent the picture message can view it, usually 1-10 seconds. After the time limit expires, the picture is “deleted”.


Personally, I’m not a snapchat user. But a lot of our students are. Surprisingly, an article I read talked about a growing number of users who are over the age of 40. 


Teens, if you are still with me, allow me to express some concern about Snapchat. Concerns that you and your parents need to know about. 


Snapchat builds a false sense of security for users. Many people have sent embarrassing, and even inappropriate, pictures of themselves using snapchat because they believed that the picture would be deleted. First of all, the person who receives the message can screenshot it. I know it notifies you if they do, but so what?! Secondly, those pictures aren’t really deleted. For you to send a snapchat, it requires at least six different servers to send it. Servers that store every bit of information. Snapchat saves those images. There was already a report of someone who hacked Snapchat’s servers and stole over 4 million pictures that had supposedly been “deleted”. Be careful. There’s no such thing as “privacy” or true  deletion on Snapchat.


Snapchat was created for inappropriate reasons. The founders have admitted that the app was inspired by a political scandal that involved sexting (send inappropriate pictures of themselves to others). There’s no telling how many teens have fallen into that trap too. And those pictures were not deleted. Even with a 1 second time limit on the picture. In November 2013, two teenage boys from Canada were arrested on child pornography charges after the boys allegedly captured and shared explicit snapchats from teenage girls. 


There is very little accountability. Because the messages are deleted, it is hard for parents to monitor a child’s activity on snapchat. And that isn’t good. It’s a parent’s responsibility to monitor all activity done online and on a smart phone. They have every right to read your Twitter posts, text messages, Instagram comments, and snapchats. Teens, can you be honest that there are times you don’t make the best decisions? We all make mistakes. And we all need to be held accountable. Snapchat limits the opportunity for accountability.


Am I saying you shouldn’t use Snapchat? That’s between you and your parents. But everyone needs to be informed and educated on not only snapchat, but every form of social media. Snapchat can be used for good and bad. It’s all up to the user to determine how it will be used. 


If you’re a snapchat user, be careful. Remember every snapchat is public and permanent. Could you imagine in 5-10 years when applying for a job, your employer pulls up a website and searches every picture you ever sent on snapchat?! How would you feel?


Yeah…that’s a very real possibility. But greater than that, God sees it. Every post. Every picture. Every thought. Every action.

Glorify Him in everything you do.    

— Eric

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