I love social media. Heck, I am the king of it. Besides the fact that I have my personal Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I also am in charge of my church’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, my youth group’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media pages, a sports website Facebook and Twitter page that myself and a friend of mine run, and also my book (A Moment With God: A Teen Devotional) has its own Facebook and Twitter page.
Needless to say, social media and I spend a lot of good (and well wasted) time together.
However, there’s one app out there today, that I had to delete. As a Youth Pastor, you’re always trying to find ways to get kids to church. I have to be on top of my game in the social media departments, because that’s where my youth are at.
About a year ago, a friend of mine (a fellow youth pastor) told me about Snapchat. What is Snapchat? Snapchat is a wildly popular photo sharing application, used 30 million times every day. The app allows users to send photos to friends, acquaintances or strangers. Significantly, the user can choose how many seconds the sent photo will be visible until it “self-destructs.”
At first I thought it was kind of cool. He was the only one I exchanged pics with, and they were usually of stupid guy humor (him driving, washing his hands in the bathroom, his armpit, etc).
I got to the point where I quit using it, because I was getting tired of seeing my friend’s face at 6am. However, as I began to dig a little deeper about this app, I quickly realized what this app was created for, and it wasn’t good.
So today, here are a couple of reasons that you (or as a parent) needs to delete the SnapChat app from your phone (or your child’s phone).
#1 – Snapchat was created for sexting.
Bottom line. Period. Why else would a photo sharing app delete images in “x” amount of seconds? The whole reason Snapchat was created was to “sext” between college kids. Now, the app has exploded on to the high school and junior high kids scene.
#2 – Nothing is deleted forever
According to Snapchat’s terms of service, ALL photos can be stored for whatever purposes and for however long they want. What does that mean? That means that even though you may have “deleted that embarrassing photo”, it is not gone forever. It’s out there on a server somewhere, and one day, it can come up in a google search with your name attached to it. All texts, phone calls, photos uploaded and removed, are out there in cyberspace, floating around. Just because you delete it, doesn’t mean it’s gone. Snapchat DOES store your photos, and not only that, they can/will sell your photos.
Still don’t think it can happen, read this story about a then 14-year old girl who uploaded some photos a few years ago to a site.
To make matters worse, just yesterday (January 2, 2014) as many as 4.6 million users of Snapchat have had their usernames and phone numbers hacked and downloaded by a website calling itself SnapchatDB.info.
But wait, you think a hack app is kind of far fetched, and wouldn’t happen to you, right? What if someone received a “racy” or “embarrassing” photo from a friend, and used another phone or iPod or iPad or camera to take a screen shot of that photo?
So much for privacy, huh?
In the world of crazy people out in cyber world, it’s best to for kids (or the parents) to delete this app. Kids may think it is a fun app and they might actually use it for fun, but the bottom line is we (as parents) need to keep our kids safe and protect them. They world and technology is changing by the minute, and we need to stay on top it and protect our kids.
UPDATE: Over the weekend, I found a couple of sites that may be of interest. First, there’s a site that explains how to delete your Snapchat account (just deleting the app doesn’t do anything for your account). Here’s the link for that.
Secondly, here’s a link that will see if your (or your child’s) account was one of the 4.6 million users that had usernames and accounts hacked. Here’s the link for that as well.
Kenny Bowyer is the youth pastor at the Cutting Edge Youth Ministry in Chouteau, Oklahoma and also the author of the teen devotional book, A Moment With God: A Teen Devotional“