You don’t want your child to be socially isolated. It’s hard to refuse them access to something that “everyone,” even many Christian young people, use to communicate. But consider these facts about Snapchat:
- Snapchat is an app for one’s phone, which most kids carry into the privacy of their bedrooms and bathrooms.
- Snapchat allows you to send self-deleting photos which cannot be retrieved by parents.
- Snapchat has reached peak popularity during one of the loneliest and most sexually charged times in modern history.
- Snapchat is in the hands of millions of hormone-raging, intimacy-craving teenagers.
- Snapchat is nearly impossible to monitor for accountability purposes.
- Snapchat allows one to view photo Stories that are pornographic.
- Snapchat is known for sexting (sending sexually explicit pictures or messages).
One secular parenting blog published an article titled “Why Snapchat Should Terrify You,” and summarized Snapchat in this way: “Snapchat can be compared to the Wild, Wild West of the olden days. There are very few rules, no real way to moderate what is going on, and any evidence of inappropriate behavior is quickly wiped away.”
Snapchat is nearly impossible to monitor for accountability purposes.
Another writer warns that Snapchat gives one’s location in real time, empowering predators. This can be turned off by switching to “Ghost mode,” but few users take advantage of this setting. Some Snapchat users receive frequent requests to connect with strangers.
Snapchat has also been linked with an increase in mental health concerns among teenagers who struggle with self-consciousness, anxiety, and loneliness. Snapchat is commonly used for cyberbullying. The advantages of Snapchat do not justify living with the dangers.
Children are rarely as spiritually mature as parents think they are. Most children are simply not ready to navigate the dangers that come with Snapchat—or smartphones altogether. John Gardner contends, “The business of growing up is much longer drawn out than we pretend.” Many parents of model teenagers have been astounded to discover their child’s sexting habits. It is shockingly common, and we cannot afford to assume our children will be the exception.
Children cannot be trusted to navigate landmines alone. Yes, parents must extend some trust to their children in order to foster respect and communication. Yes, parents cannot shelter their children from everything ungodly. But we should not be so naive as to think that children—even those who are saved and Spirit-filled—are mature enough to navigate spiritual landmines like Snapchat.
Parents must humbly shoulder total responsibility for allowing Snapchat in the first place.
Parenting requires great moral courage. Jesus characterized parents as giving good gifts to their children. It is much easier to give things than it is to take things away, even bad things. This is especially true when we want to be liked by our children or when children are idols in our lives. It will require moral courage to admit that you have given your child a bad gift by allowing him or her to have an app with potential for spiritual peril. It will require even greater moral courage to take it away, and humbly shoulder responsibility for allowing it in the first place.