The Allure of Snapchat & The Trouble It Can Cause

Snapchat's Allure: Managed Risk

There is barely a teen or Millenial that isn't on Snapchat. 

It's where young people spend their time, meet and share images and videos of themselves with friends.   Not only is everybody using it, but there is a feeling among many users that it's "safer" to use than other social media networks since Snaps "disappear" after a user views it and then closes the Snap and Stories "disappear" after 24 hours. 

Note that "disappear" is in quotes.  This is because there is nothing to prevent someone who can see your Snaps or Stories from saving those posts on their own device.  Once they've saved your post, it can be shared or re-posted anywhere.  It's the saving and re-posting that leads to trouble for many users.

To many parents of young people, it often seems Snapchat is always present. and for a lot of teens and Millenials it is - take a look at the stats regarding it's use:

  • 71% of Snapchat users are under 34 years old.
  • Roughly 70% of Snapchat users are female.
  • 30% of US Millennial Internet Users use Snapchat regularly.
  • People under the age of 25 use Snapchat for 40 minutes on average every day, more than instagram’s latest stat for same demographic.
  • 50% of Male College students share selfies on Snapchat, the number is higher in Female college students. 77% to be precise.
  • 45% of Snapchat users are 18-24

With so many people using Snapchat as their "go-to" social media network of choice, it should be no surprise that we are seeing an uptick in incidents where people who posted on Snapchat thinking their posts were "safe" because they "disappear" find that those posts in fact lead to serious trouble and consequences for them.

The most recent incident occurred at a Navy hospital in Florida after Snapchat photos went viral.  They showed an employee giving the middle finger to a newborn with a caption that said, “How I currently feel about these mini Satans” in addition to another post of an employee making a newborn "dance" to rap music.

snapchat nurse image 3.JPG

It's safe to assume that the people who participated in this Snapchat photo session didn't intend for their posts to go viral and probably never imagined the consequences they'd have to face as a result of their posts (that they thought would disappear).

Once the offenders' employer found out, they were quick to respond:

snapchat nurse incident response.JPG

It's safe to assume that disciplinary action from their employer isn't the only woe these people will face as a result of these posts.  

People (of all ages) need to understand that anytime you share something digitally, whether it's on Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram or just in a text message, what you're essentially doing is giving up control of your content (words, images, videos) because there's nothing you can do to stop someone from saving your content to their own device and using it however they choose. 

Before you post anything, you should be asking yourself the following questions:  Would I be okay if my parents, my grandparents, my teachers/principal, my coach, my clergy, a police officer, a judge, the admissions officer at the college I want to attend, or my employer saw this?  If you can't say "YES, I'd be happy if they all saw this post" then you shouldn't post it!

A little thought and consideration can go a long way when it comes to avoiding social media mistakes and consequences.

Click HERE for more on this topic and others of similar note by Julie.

Julie Fisher, M.Ed., is the founder of The Social U and consults with schools, organizations and individuals through the MJ Fisher Group.  She regularly speaks to students, parents and community members about social media and parenting.

Twitter: @Julz Fisher, @the_social_u