Snapchat’s “Discover” Feature Also Poses a Major Problem for Children

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Social media has taken over the world seemingly overnight, but how does this affect children? Is social media safe, most especially for our children? The social media craze starts young these days, and it seems to keep getting younger. Although the terms of agreement state that a user must be at least thirteen to use the popular app, Snapchat, there is no real age verification and even my eight-year-old niece has her own Snapchat account. According to Alexis Madrigal, “Snapchat is a photo-sharing service with one key distinguishing feature: the photos you send disappear. Seconds after opening ‘snaps,’ users can no longer access them and the images are deleted from the company’s servers.” Social medias, especially Snapchat, can be particularly dangerous for kids due to not being able to see the content of conversations your children are having after the fact, its “Discover” feature, and the practically non-existent parental controls which can lead to your child talking to anyone.

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Snapchat’s disappearing messages make it almost impossible to find out what your children have been talking about after they close out of the conversation. Once you open a “snap”, you have seconds before it disappears forever. “Sexting” (sex texting) has been a problem that many parents have faced with their children. It is when two or more people send explicit images or messages to one another. Snapchat has made it much easier to get away with sexting under the radar. Snapchat also makes children feel more comfortable to cyber-bully their peers, because after the recipient closes the message there is no proof of what was said. Steven Woda says, “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. With no paper trail, and no way to trace what is being sent across the servers.” Snapchat and other apps like it, can cause children to be more sexually active and even bully others more than ever before, right under our noses.

Along with sexting and cyber-bullying, Snapchat’s “Discover” feature also poses a major problem for children under eighteen. The “Discover” feature cannot be disabled and is easily accessed inside the app. On my own Snapchat, when I swipe over to the “Discover” page, the first few articles showing up are more than concerning. It shows some news, “Aftermath of This Storm Leaves Residents Completely Devastated”, with pictures from Hurricane Michael and the horrors it left in Panama City and the surrounding areas. However, right beside that is “THIS is Where Everyone Hides Their Nudes”, “Chrissy’s Boob Malfunction”, “Why I’m Obsessed with This Song About Butts”, and “Have You Ever Heard of Retrograde Ejaculation?”. These are just some of the articles that pop up on my “Discover” page. You can click on these articles and use the Snapchat app to read them without even going into your web browser, which can be more censored with parental controls. “The problem is that many of these high-ranking channels offer sexually oriented content. Although Snapchat’s terms of service discourages explicit content, these channels include images posted from magazines, television stations and other content providers that can be inappropriate for children.”, says Wayne Parker.

Because of the “Discover” feature, children are being exposed to sexual and inappropriate content that the parent may potentially be unaware of. Being exposed to sexual and inappropriate content at a young age does drastically affect the growing mind of a child. According to Dr. Carolyn Ross, “A 2012 study shows that movies influence teens’ sexual attitudes and behaviors as well. The study, published in Psychological Science, found that the more teens were exposed to sexual content in movies, the earlier they started having sex and the likelier they were to have casual, unprotected sex… In a study by researcher Dr. Jennings Bryant, more than 66 percent of boys and 40 percent of girls reported wanting to try some of the sexual behaviors they saw in the media (and by high school, many had done so), which increases the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies… According to some studies, early exposure (by age 14) to pornography and other explicit material may increase the risk of a child becoming a victim of sexual violence or acting out sexually against another child…Not every child who is exposed to sexual content will struggle with a mental health disorder, but research shows that early exposure to pornography is a risk factor for sex addictions and other intimacy disorders. In one study of 932 sex addicts, 90 percent of men and 77 percent of women reported that pornography was a factor in their addiction.”

Snapchat has no real parental controls. In the “Who Can” section of the settings, you can control who can contact you, who can view your story, who can see your location and who can see you in “quick add,” but these settings cannot be locked so they may be changed at any time. Also, there is no way to control who your child adds as a “friend,” even if you change the settings to “friends only.” Katie Lobosco reports, “Parents who are willing to shell out $40 a month, and spy on their kids, can find out exactly what their children are Snapchatting. A software called mSpy allows parents to see what their children are sending on Snapchat, as well as who they’re calling, texting, emailing and where they are.” However, this is out of the budget for many parents and not being able to control who contacts your child, when and the content of these conversations can lead to serious problems. Kirsten Korosec says, “Pedophiles are increasingly using disappearing photo app Snapchat as their go-to sexual exploitation tool, law enforcement officials have warned. Criminal cases involving adults using Snapchat to exploit minors for sexual gratification is on the rise. And that’s problematic because the cornerstone of the tool is its disappearing messages. What makes Snapchat so attractive to teens is the same feature that makes finding evidence of sexual exploitation so difficult, according to investigators.” There have been multiple cases where a child has been kidnapped after going to meet someone that they have “met” on Snapchat. Unfortunately, in these cases, it may be difficult to prove the content of the conversations prior to the child being kidnaped due to the disappearing messages.

So, is Snapchat safe for our children to use? There are many reasons people use this platform to stay in contact with friends, family and the outside world. However, currently Snapchat is doing more harm than good for our children. Snapchat exposes children to explicit material that can influence their lives with its “Discover” feature. It makes it easier for children to engage in “sexting” as well as cyber-bullying. Also, snapchat exposes them to strangers, pedophiles and possible kidnappers with its lack of parental controls. Snapchat does all this, without keeping a history that can be viewed by the parent. 

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Snapchat’s “Discover” Feature Also Poses A Major Problem For Children. (2022, Apr 09). Retrieved December 5, 2022 , from
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