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Shelby Says: Is Snapchat harmless or hurtful

May 15, 2013

By Shelby Woodall

The photo-sharing phenomenon that is sweeping smart phones across the nation allows users to share a photo that will essentially "self-destruct" in a given amount of time, only to disappear from the electronic world forever.
Or does it?
Snapchat is a photo-sharing app that allows you to take a picture, send that picture to another Snapchat user and after a certain amount of time chosen by the sender, the photo is deleted and the receiver can no longer see the photo.
As of April 16, Snapchat is processing approximately 150 million images per day, according to the Washington Post.
Despite its hype, parents are concerned that this app exposes their children o opportunities to share sexual images or even get blackmailed and bullied.
As a teenager and a Snapchat user, I can assure any parents reading this column that most teenagers use Snapchat for recreational purposes.
We send silly pictures of ourselves to each other just for a laugh. If someone wanted to send sexual or blackmail pictures, they would most likely do it through another electronic app such as texting or Facebook.
However, there is a screenshot function on most smart phones. This allows the user to take a picture of the phone screen no matter what app they have open. Therefore, they could use screenshot to save a picture shared through Snapchat even though it may delete itself.
The drawbacks of Snapchat seem minor when you think about how the app can benefit your child. For example, it enhances its user's communication and electronic skills. It also encourages making new friends and maintains long-distance relationships, such as family and friends in other states.
Evan Spiegel, the creator of Snapchat, stated in an interview with the Washington Post that the users of this app are attracted to the idea that any pictures they send aren't permanent and won't live on the Internet forever. If you have any concern about what your child is seeing while using this app, I would advise you to just sit and talk to your child.
A teen will find a way to share the photos they want to share, no matter what app they do it through. However, you will probably find that he or she uses Snapchate to have a laugh with friends. You have nothing to worry about with Snapchat.
If you are concerned about the exchange of sexual or blackmail photos, you should be more concerned about Facebook or texting. I assure you that Snapchat is a harmless smartphone app that benefits the user more than it hurts them.
So, parents, what are your opinions on the safety of Snapchat? Do you feel safe with your children using it? What about the tens reading? Do you see it as harmless fun?
I would like to hear your opinions. Please send me an email or contact the Saline Courier.

Shelby Woodall is a student in the Bryant School District. Her column appears each Tuesday in The Saline Courier. She may be contacted at shelby@shelbysays.com.

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