One thing that bothered me about Snapchat is that predators are out there lurking, just waiting to get a hold of our kids. Could we possibly keep them safe on Snapchat? On Facebook, Instagram and Twitter I know the settings, I know how to lock things up tight so that only their friends can see their posts and their location will not be found. But could I do that on Snapchat? It concerned me. But the thing that bothered me the most was the whole basis of what Snapchat is. You send a picture or 10 second video. Once the picture or video is viewed, it 'magically' disappears. Basically they are saying, send what you want, do what you want, say what you want, it goes away anyway, no one will know. In this world of cyber bullying and s*xting, that is super scary. It gives this sense that there are no consequences for your actions. Truth is, there are always consequences, some good and some bad depending on your action. I don't want my kids thinking that it doesn't matter what they say and do because they think no one will find out. I want them to know that the truth will always come out and that inappropriate behavior of any kind is absolutely unacceptable.
For almost 5 years we completely avoided Snapchat. Until I got it.
A few months ago a friend's teen posted something on Instagram that was questionable. Worried for this teen, who is a friend to my kids, I decided to do some digging. I was in full on mama-bear, private-investigator mode. If there was something to be found, I was going to find it. Knowing by the filter being used, this was a Snapchat pic. So I downloaded the app just to do some investigating. After a few minutes, I realized I wouldn't be able to see anything anyway. For one, this teen would have to directly send something to me, which they didn't, or it would have to be on their story (like a newsfeed), which disappears after a day. So my search was halted. I decided for now to keep the app and check it daily to see if there was anything that I needed to show the mom. After a week or so, nothing came up. It was time to commit this to prayer and wait on God.
In the meantime, I had quite a few friends and fellow bloggers add me. I was shocked to see how many people actually had Snapchat. My sister included, she's the very last person I'd ever expect to have a Snapchat account! She couldn't even figure out Instagram! I looked at few snaps from my friends and found it to actually be fun. The filters are hilarious! And so many of my friends on Snapchat are more "silly" than on any other social media platform. It was fun to see this side of my friends. I decided to keep the app for a little while to watch my friends.
My daughter was shocked to see the Snapchat app on my phone. Once her shock wore off, she asked if she could have one too. Since my daughter is 18 and graduated from high school, we decided to let her make the decision. First, we firmly reminded her to:
- Snap wisely. Every choice you make has a consequence. Just because something goes away on Snapchat, doesn't mean it goes away. Anyone can screenshot your picture. I screenshot almost every snap my daughter sends me. I jokingly say that I am doing it to show her future husband, but the truth is, Snapchat sends a notification when someone screenshots your snap and I want her to always remember that it can be done. Besides, in the 5 years Snapchat has been around, I've heard a couple of times about the app being hacked and the hackers getting images that already 'disappeared.' Once something is out there, it really is out there forever. Luke 8:17 tells us that everything done will be found out. Besides, remember that God sees and knows all!
- Be safe. Not only should you not send any s*xual images or bullying images -that's not who you are and not who you should become- you should not receive them. If you see any, report it immediately. Report to me or to Snapchat, just report! If someone you don't know contacts you, ignore them. If they persist or ask for explicit images, report it to me and/or Snapchat. (Fyi, this happens on all social media sites, not just Snapchat!)
- Remember Philippians 4:8. It is a joke with my kids that every time they leave the house or do anything, I say "remember Philippians 4:8." Why do I say this? Because Philippians 4:8 tells us that we need to think on things that are true, noble, pure, just, lovely, of good report, and praise worthy. If it is not those things, we should not be doing, saying, or thinking it. Period. When we watch a tv show, we ask if it lines up with this verse. Before we say something, we ask if it lines up with this verse. So in regards to Snapchat, before we snap, we ask if it lines up with this verse.
It's all about how you use it. Just like a pencil doesn't make mistakes, it's the person using the pencil who messes up and a gun doesn't shoot someone, it's the one using the gun who shoots it, Snapchat itself is not bad. Was it created to be something bad? I honestly don't know. I assumed it was, but I do not know the creator so I don't have the right to guess. What I can do is use the app carefully and in an appropriate way and teach my daughter to do the same. We have not yet let our other teens get the app (their phones do not download any apps until I put a code in). In the meantime, they love playing on mine and sending silly pics to their cousins and Nana.
I am truly having fun with Snapchat. I love sending silly pictures to my sisters for my nieces and nephews each morning to say "hi" and getting their silly replies. Whether you have one, don't have one, on the fence about it, or have avoided it like the plague as I did, remember that it's all about how you use it. All social media outlets can be bad if we let them. And more important, remember, God knows all, God sees all. If you wouldn't "snap" it to Jesus, don't snap it!
Share your own thoughts on Snapchat or any social media in the comments!