I was first introduced to Snapchat back in November 2012 while hanging out with some of my favorite youth ministry colleagues at our annual youth and family ministers’ retreat at Lutheran Memorial Camp. The photosharing app had just started to gain some traction and popularity among our teenage ministry demographic, so a few of us decided to download it and spend a few days testing it out to learn how it worked.
While I must admit that the three of us were almost immediately sucked in to the silliness and almost inherent narcissism of the app, snapping and sending ridiculous “snaps” to each other throughout the remainder of the retreat (and beyond), we also immediately recognized some of the inherent risks involved in putting this app into the hands of teens and preteens. As the infographic below indicates:
Because of the self-destruction design of the app, users think it is a safe medium to send nude and semi-nude pictures. And with the majority of the users of Snapchat being teens and tweens, this creates a huge problem, exposing young people to the dangers of sexting. The CEO Even Spiegel has said that this app was not created with the intention of sexting, but teens will be teens…
With an app that is used more than 30 million times daily, it’s absolutely critical that we are both informed and proactive in educating teens and their parents in how to navigate a world that feels less risky than really is.
Question: How do we help tweens and teens navigate a world in which apps like Snapchat are a widely used vehicle for communication? How do you stay up-to-date and informed on the latest technology?