Snapchat – What Parents Need to Know

Every now and then a app comes on the scene that gets everyone’s attention, especially teenagers. Recently a new app has come on the scene which can probably be found on the smart phones of most teenagers. It’s called Snapchat. Snapchat is a new app that makes sharing photos with your friends quick and easy. It’s basically texting, but with photos. You can control how long your friends can see your photo as well. Also, you can add text to your pictures. Sounds great, right? Before you answer that think about the doors this opens for teenagers. In a teen culture that is already saturated with sex, using social media for things like sexting has become a huge problem with teens. In the past, teens were using text messages to have sexual conversations with others and maybe sending a photo or two via text. Now through Snapchat teens can send pictures much easier and quicker which opens the door even wider for things like sexting. Here is why this app will make sexting more popular among teens. Because of the timing feature, allowing a user to set a time limit their photo can be seen, adds a false security that their picture will not be posted all over their school. In the past this has been a huge problem. A girl would send a nude photo to a boy which would result in that boy sharing that photo throughout the school. With Snapchat’s time limit, teens will feel “safer” sending nude photos. I may be coming down too hard on this new app and only thinking about the bad effects of it, but I really believe apps like Snapchat will increase the rate of teens engaging in sexting. And the problems with sexting are numerous, but one that I will mention is the way teens view it. To them it’s not bad because your not actually having sex. Your just talking and sending a photo or two. They fail to see, and parents fail to see, that sexual immorality in the Bible isn’t just referring to intercourse, it is referring to anything sexual outside of the covenant of marriage. So how should parents respond? Should they punish their child for downloading or using this app? Should we just make moralistic rules for this app like we have done with other “bad” things in our culture? I suggest parents, and student pastors, should respond in a few ways to the phenomenon of Snapchat. First, remember this app is a morally neutral thing. By that I mean the app itself is not bad or good. What makes it bad or good is the way one uses it. It’s the same as the internet. The internet itself is not bad, it’s the user that either uses it for good or for bad. So parents should be careful to instantly make rules for their child to “not use this app.” If they feel like that is needed, than go for it, but I suggest parents have a talk with their child about the heart of the matter, which is how are they going to use it. It’s a app they can use to either bring glory to sinfulness or bring glory to God. Focus on the heart not just outward rules and regulations. Second, stay informed. Most parents wouldn’t even know if their child is using this app and if they were or were not sending nude photos. Parents need to be intentional about learning the popular trends within teen culture (click here to view a few tools to help you do just that). [Question] What are your thoughts on Snapchat? How can we encourage teens to use it in a way that brings glory to God?

Published by Austin McCann

Austin is the student ministries director at Redemption Chapel in Stow, OH. He has a BA from Piedmont International University and a Master of Arts in Religion with a Christian leadership focus from Liberty University School of Divinity. Austin enjoys reading, writing, playing basketball and golf, and spending time with his family.

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  1. Well handled and well written. Thanks for making us aware.

    Rick McKee Pastor | Stow Campus Christ Community Chapel | 330.650.9533

  2. A parent asked me this (not about SnapChat, but it relates): Is it really my place to regulate what she does with her phone?

    Answer: Yes.

    We should help parents realize that they have authority in their child’s life and we should help students realize that too.

    1. Aaron,

      Good thoughts. I find it crazy that many parents think they shouldn’t control what their children do on their phones. Children need accountability and boundaries, but within the context of a loving relationship. Parents must learn that balance between mentoring and allowing room for learning through mistakes, but also protecting and being an authority.


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