Snapchat has grown since it first came onto the scene in 2011. The instant messaging app debuted with various clever features. From silly filters to disappearing messages, Snapchat quickly became a favorite among teens. But many parents worry about how their children use the app. Especially, with Snapchat sexting now commonplace.
Sexting presents many potential dangers to children, such as encounters with sexual predators. Couple that with all the new messaging apps emerging, and parenting is more complex than ever. It’s become one of the most challenging and confusing processes. But there are things you can do as a parent to address Snapchat sexting (and other risks). This article will cover everything you need to know and what to do to protect your kids.
What Is Sexting?
Sexting is the act of receiving or sending sexually explicit messages. That includes photos, videos, and texts. It can range from sly innuendos, full-blown nudity, and videos of simulated sex acts. For many teens, Snapchat sexting is a way to explore their sexuality and intimacy. But some do it to get attention or because of peer pressure. Others see it as normal behavior, a way to flirt, seem cool, or become famous.
Why Is Snapchat One Of The Most Used Apps For Sexting By Teens?
Snapchat is the teen choice for sexting due to its ‘disappearing message’ feature. It automatically erases all evidence of sexting from a device after one viewing. In other words, it will delete the messages someone sends or receives once viewed. But while that may sound like foolproof privacy, it’s not. Several workarounds allow users to capture and store messages.
For starters, a person can screenshot the message. However, not many users do that because Snapchat will notify the sender. Instead, what many prefer is to use third-party services like screen recorders. These tools can capture conversations without triggering Snapchat’s notification system. Another hack is to take photos using a secondary device to avoid the screenshot alert.
These hacks further illustrate that nothing is truly private or safe once it gets online. Unfortunately, the disappearing message feature leaves teens with a false sense of security. Many assume their messages are secure and inaccessible without consent. But that’s far from reality because Snapchat private messages aren’t safe.
Further, Snapchat forbids minors to engage in sexting according to its community guidelines. The platform also doesn’t encourage or condone the act of sexting between adults.
Stats About Teen Snapchat Sexting
Today sexting is a normal and common practice among teens. It’s become part of a child’s development when they reach an age of sexual curiosity. That’s because people are spending more time than ever in digital spaces.
Here are some relevant stats about Snapchat sexting to consider.
An analysis of 39 studies found an increase in sexting among teens. Trends also show the rate of sexting among teens increases with age.
One study of 656 high school students found 40.5% of male teens had received nudes. For female teens, 30.6% received nudes.
A research review revealed sexting among teens is mostly consensual.
One study by JAMA Pediatrics found sexting is more common among teenagers. Participants were 12 to 17 years old kids, with an average age of 15. Highlights from the study include:
- At least 1 in 4 teens receive sexually explicit texts and emails
- At least 1 in 7 teens send sexts
- Over 1 in 10 forward sexts without consent
- About 1 in 12 teens have had someone forward their sexts without consent
Another study revealed 35% of teen respondents consider Snapchat a favorite app. In addition, the same study found that, on average, Snapchat users check the app 30 times daily.
Girls are also more likely to say Snapchat is the site they use most often. This is according to a Pew Research Center study.
Over 75% of Gen ZERS use Snapchat, and the userbase continues to grow every year.
Signs That A Teen Might Be Sexting
Parents should always be attentive to what children are doing online. But that’s hardly easy since teens can be cunning when concealing their actions. However, you can look for the following signs.
Overly-Protective Of Their Cellphone
This is something you should test. You can ask to use your teen’s device to perform some tasks, such as checking the time. Pay attention to how your child responds or behaves. The child will typically strongly object or nervously fiddle with the phone beforehand. If so, there might be cause for concern.
Is your teen being extra secretive when messaging on their phone? This should raise an immediate red flag. For example, they may insist on texting from a private place or cover the phone when someone is nearby. You may want to pry for information if your child exhibits such behaviors.
New Friend Circle
Try to get familiar with your teen’s friends so you know when they are not hanging out together anymore. Sudden friend changes can be a sign of Snapchat sexting.
Do your child’s social accounts have flirty photos and language? Are their friends doing the same? Risky digital behavior such as those can be a sign of sexting.
Spending Lots Of Time On Snapchat
Consider having a sit-down with your child if they are always on Snapchat. This is usually a tell-tale sign that something is wrong.
A Drop In Performance
A fall in school grades may indicate an unhealthy relationship with Snapchat. Similarly, sexting may be an issue if the child fails to keep up with other responsibilities.
A Noticeable Change In Sleeping Pattern
Pay close attention to when your teen goes to sleep. Also, consider how energized they are when awake in the morning. Teens often sext at night when everyone else is asleep. As a result, they may not get a good night’s rest.
What To Do If Your Teenager Is Snapchat Sexting?
You can take several steps if there’s any evidence of sexting. Some of the things you can do include:
- Stage an intervention. Openly discuss the potential harm that snapchat sexting could cause your teen. Explain the dangers of falling victim to blackmail, cyberbullying, and sexual predators. Let your child know there’s no guarantee that the recipient won’t forward conversations. For example, send a nude to one person, and they can forward it to all their friends.
- Limit phone access. Consider implementing a schedule for cellphone usage. For example, you can allow it during the day, but not at night. Limiting phone access may help reduce time on Snapchat and other social media apps. It can also decrease the likelihood of sexting.
- Discuss the potential legal consequences. Explain the legal ramifications that sexting can present. In most places, sexting involving minors violates child pornography laws. That’s because these laws are often broad. For example, federal law in the US sees all sexually implicit images of a minor as child pornography. That also means the government can prosecute anyone for possession and production.
- Install MMGuardian. It’s an AI-driven parental control solution that protects children from online dangers. MMGuardian can monitor Snapchat text messages on Android devices. Parents receive activity reports and can read messages if desired. The solution will also send a Safety Alert if messages meet one of several risk categories. This includes sexting, cyberbullying, drugs, violence, suicide ideation, online predators, and others. MMGuardian can also scan saved pictures on the phone, excluding the ones in social apps. It’ll then alert parents if a picture is of sexual or adult nature. For example, you’ll get an alert if your child takes or receives a sexual selfie saved on their phone.
Get On Top Of Things Early
Snapchat sexting isn’t going anywhere. It’s a natural behavior to feel curious and experiment with new things, such as sexting. However, parents shouldn’t ignore the dangers. So educate your children about the potential consequences. And be on the lookout for signs that may indicate teen snapchat sexting.
If there’s a reason for concern, take the necessary steps to protect your child. It’s also vital that you position yourself as an ally to your teen, not the enemy. Show them that you’re acting in their best interest by communicating the risks. Lastly, while essential to monitor children’s activities, avoid trampling over their privacy.