It is general knowledge that the vast majority of trends picked up by the under 25 demographic are likely to pass as quickly as they rose to popularity (sometimes even more quickly, in the Internet age). Most of these fads are harmless and can be laughed about later when the younger generations have moved on to something bigger, better, or faster. Snapchat, however, is an alarming trend that is very popular among young people today.
For those unfamiliar with the application, Snapchat allows users to send self-destructing photographs to each other, so the recipient can only see the photo for a few seconds before it is deleted forever. One obvious use of such a feature is to send photos that you normally wouldn’t want someone to have in their possession, often containing sexual or otherwise inappropriate content.
However, for those whose inhibitions are lowered by the allure of Snapchat, it is still possible to be taken advantage of when photos are sent this way. Recipients of Snapchat texts can screenshot the photo, and then are able to share it with whomever they choose. While the sender is notified when a screenshot has been taken, oftentimes it is too late.
Another concerning use of this application has arisen in schools. Young students have used Snapchat for bullying purposes, such as the case in Iowa of a female student having a Snapchat of her changing in the locker room sent to male students.
Snapchat does have positive uses, such as the ease of sending fun, light-hearted, and silly messages to friends and loved ones in place of standard texts. There are, however, many darker uses for this app, and users need to be aware of them. Since the app is so popular with young people, parents and educators must also be aware of the potential risks of Snapchat.
Snapchat may yet be a fad, and its dangers may never be fully realized. This doesn’t seem to be the case though, as it has recently been valued at over $50 million, and speculation that one of the social media giants will purchase it soon is rampant in technology and business circles. Hopefully, users will be smart enough to know that nothing on the internet disappears, and you should never send any information that you wouldn’t want shared.