Since its launch last year, Snapchat, a photo messaging application that allows senders to determine how long a message will stay on a recipient’s phone before being automatically deleted, has grown increasingly popular among teens and young adults.
On the surface, the app provided the answer to the question nagging many people who would like to be able to send texts, or pictures or videos to friends but are wary about them ending up on the internet for the world to see.
But as Steve Ryzewski of the Seminole Chronicle explains, the protections provided by Snapchat could be illusory. As a growing number of teens – and their schools and parents – are finding out, bypassing the controls set on the media sent via the app is easier than most people think.
This won’t come as a surprise to those who have experience with technology. In the digital world, almost all protections put into place by device manufacturers, website operators and app designers can be bypassed by a small group of determined coders — that is, if coding skills are even required. Merely days after Snapchat was released, a much more low-tech solution for bypassing the sender’s intent was already available on the internet: use another camera to take the picture of the smartphone’s screen.
The “disappearing” nature of the app has made for a new avenue for teens and young adults to send inappropriate or embarrassing photos with the belief that they will be immediately deleted. Of course, with the myriad ways around that function, Snapchat photos are now commonly popping up around the Internet, embarrassing those pictured and providing new outlets for child predators.
It’s why some parents, such as Rachael and Lou Klinker of Oviedo, do not allow their children to use the application and tightly monitor which other applications they may be using.
The way Rachel thinks, since Snapchat’s chief upside is the “disappearing” function, anything the app is used for is questionable. Anything her kids would want to disappear in this way is not anything they should be putting on their phones in the first place.
The issue is, of course, bigger than Snapchat. The problem is that technology is moving and developing at a pace so swift, parents aren’t able to keep up with it and teens and young kids don’t know – or don’t care – to assess the risks of using new software prior to embracing it.
“The whole social media, as it applies today for us, is a concern … [applications have] become so sophisticated in their uses,” Robert Lundquist, principal at Oviedo High School, said. “We have to address it because it is out there – we can’t turn our backs to it. … There’s always something new with technology, and these kids are so bright and astute to the ways of social media.”
Register voiced similar concerns that the sheriff’s office has to deal with, including increasing problems with “sexting” and cyber-bullying. Some of those issues will be addressed at a specific class as part of SCSO’s Summer Safety Series.
The class will be on Aug. 19 at 6:30 p.m. at SCSO’s main office in Sanford. More information about the class and others like it can be found at the sheriff’s office website.