Snapchat has become the most popular social media site among teens. It has slowly climbed the ranks beating out Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Snapchat is an app that allows you to send quickly disappearing videos, pictures, and messages to friends. Studies show that teens are more interested in viewing pictures than text focused messages. In fact, most teens snap one another before they text each other. The app has grown immensely as it added more picture and video filters, face swapping features, and most recently snap streaks. In fact, more than 60% of smartphone users between 13-34 yrs of age use Snapchat with over 8 billion video views through the app. Unlike Instagram and Facebook, Snapchat is more about creating content than just consuming it. In fact, the first thing that opens is a camera. The whole idea behind Snapchat is to encourage the users to create a video to send to a friend.
Is Snapchat dangerous? Is it just another trend that will soon go by the wayside? Should we be using it in our ministry or warning our students of the dangers of it? Can’t we just use the app for good? Snapchat was originally created as a “safe” sexting app. The creators of the app have even admitted to it. The app is built on the premise that what you post is private, will be deleted, and no one can ever see it. It is important to share with our teens that EVERYTHING that they post online is forever and can also affect their future. While not all teens will use it to sext, 1 out of 6 teens say they have received or sent a sext on Snapchat. Many teens will use the app because it has no accountability. While we do not necessarily have to delete the app and get rid of it just because it has some dangers, as youth workers we must be aware of the dangers of the devices and apps our students are using. Can it be used for good? Absolutely! It can be used for sharing information like upcoming events or programs. You can send encouraging videos or quotes. You can start your own streak with your students as a challenge to see how many positive things you can send to one another. Is it dangerous? Yes. Do we need to be careful and informed? Yes. We need to figure out a way, with safety and accountability in place, to take Snapchat and use it for the good of our ministry.
Written by Ben Regensburg