When I watch my kids online, I often wish the internet was a bit more forgiving. I am not talking about the freedom to do whatever they want without consequences. I am talking about sharing a silly moment without it stalking them for they rest of their lives. The Snapchat app appears to promise kids this freedom by allowing them to send a disappearing photo.
Snapchat lets kids take and send photos to their friends that cannot be saved. It does this by including a self-destruct button. Kids decide how long their friend can view the photo, with a maximum viewing time of 10 seconds. When time is up, the photo disappears. Snapchat photos cannot be saved by the recipient.
Snapchat is intended for kids over 13. It is one of the top 5 apps for teens. Over 60 million photos or messages are sent each day on Snapchat. The latest version will let teens send videos that self-destruct within 10 seconds.
When Snapchat first launched, many people wrote about the potential for teens to use it for sexting. A self-destructing photo seemed the perfect way for teens to send naughty pictures without worrying about the photo ending up splashed all over the internet. Some teens probably have used Snapchat for this purpose and parents should definitely talk to their teen about the dangers of sexting.
An online search for #Snapchat reveals a lot of teens are using it to take funny pictures of themselves. They are making an ugly face or drawing a mustache. These pictures share a silly moment then disappear. They can have fun without having their crazy duck face follow them into adulthood. Unfortunately, these faces may not always disappear.
When Instagram launched, it was available only on a mobile device. Kids flocked to this photo sharing app. One of the reason is most parents are not on Instagram. And, since only members could see their Instagram profiles, many adults were out of the loop. This changed with Instagram’s new web profiles.
Now, anyone can check out their profile online. Their web profile will have recently shared photographs, their profile photo and bio, and the rest of their photos. By clicking on a photo, people can see likes and comments.
On Instagram, an account is either public or private. Public accounts will have all of their photos on their web profile. Kids cannot choose to have some photos public and some private.
Teaching kids how to play nice in the real world is challenging. Move this same scenario online and interactions become even more complicated. With no connection to a face or a voice, a simple misunderstanding can escalate to hurt feelings on all sides. One of the areas that is difficult to deal with is when a friend posts a photo that includes you.
With 300 million photos posted on Facebook every day, most people will have to deal with a friend posting a photo you do not want online. In many cases, the friend did not intended to hurt you nor does the picture violate Facebook’s Community Standards. Often these photos are reported to Facebook where reporting can lead to unfriending or blocking that person. For a photo you simply don’t like what you are wearing and wish your friend had not posted it, this is a harsh solution.
Facebook and a team of researchers from Yale University and UC Berkeley developed a better way for friends to communicate with each other. At Facebook’s 2nd Compassion Research Day, they presented an updated social reporting tool. This new tool gave people an opportunity to share their feelings behind why they wanted the picture removed.