Snapchat’s New Sexting Message is Really for Parents

If you’re the parent of teens, you may have seen a headline in the past week such as, “Snapchat tells teens: Keep your clothes on.” You may even have read the article.

snapchatThese articles were prompted by an update to Snapchat’s Safety Center, which includes the following admonishment for teens:

“Keep it legal. Don’t use Snapchat for any illegal shenanigans and if you’re under 18 or are Snapping with someone who might be: keep your clothes on!”

We can’t argue with the message, nor do we want to; the problem is that it won’t do any good unless parents are involved.

Think of it this way: If Snapchat told your teen to take his clothes off, would he? Nope. If Snapchat told your teen to hold her breath until she turned blue, would she. Again, no.

Like much of corporate communication, this was written not to inform the reader, but rather to protect the writer. Snapchat can hold themselves out to the community at large as having done something material to curb the transmission of underage nudity. Mission not accomplished, in our opinion.

There is one thing positive that this may end up accomplishing. Snapchat has sent a clear message to parents that they know teen users are sending nudes to other users, and the downside is significant enough that Snapchat is concerned about repercussions.

Inappropriate teen behavior of almost any type is first and foremost a parenting issue, and parents need to step up their game.

  • Is your teen using Snapchat? You should know the answer to this.
  • Have you talked to your teen (or tween!) about the risks of sexting? If you haven’t yet, you should.
  • At what age? Well, if your child has a smart phone, the risks of sexting should be something you have covered by now.

Snapchat, while being problematic because it is one of the “in” messaging platforms and is commonly used for sexting, is not the problem. If your teen is inclined to send risqué pics, there are plenty of other options to make that happen. That being said, Snapchat is often the medium of choice because people believe the pictures self-destruct, even though they don’t necessarily do so.

Parents can use the Snapchat safety update as a reason for having the sexting discussion with the kids. If you’ve had it already, you can have it again. In our experience, parents think nothing about warning about the risks of drugs, or drinking and driving, over and over again. It’s time that sexting got the same level of attention.



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