The Snapchat and Porn Conversation You Need to Have, Today

The Snapchat and Porn Conversation You Need to Have, Today
Megan Briggs

Does your teen use Snapchat? The widely popular social media app has launched a new service called “Cosmo After Dark” that promises X-rated content to users. If your child is one of the 75 percent of teens that use Snapchat, you should be concerned.

As Protect Young Eyes reports, “Cosmo After Dark seems to include a new, more pornographic level of sexualized content, even by Snapchat’s standards.” The article tells readers not to be so surprised since the app was originally started by college students interested in sexting.

Cosmo After Dark Is Bad-Really, Really Bad

But what is so concerning about this latest move by Snapchat is the content available through “Cosmo After Dark.” It is part of Snapchat’s Discover section, which includes articles and video advertisements from different media outlets like ESPN, Cosmo, Buzzfeed, E!, MTV, CNN, and others. You can imagine, based on the outlets providing content to this section of the app, that the content available here has always been a mixed bag of good and bad. But this new one, “Cosmo After Dark”, really pushes the envelope. The channel goes live each Friday at 6 p.m. EST.

Protect Young Eyes includes screenshots of the things they saw as they briefly scouted out “enemy territory”. What they share is not good, to put it mildly. One article they captured is titled “The 19 Best Sites to Binge-Watch Porn On”. Imagine your teenagers stumbling upon this article.

And stumble upon it they very well may. It’s unclear what content users may and may not see, depending on the birthdate they used when they signed up for Snapchat. You may want to take a look at your teen’s phone to determine whether he or she has access to the channel or not.

Lack of Parental Controls Exacerbate the Problem

It’s hard to determine whether or not your teen has stumbled upon this section of the app-whether deliberately or not. The only way for you to know after the fact is if your teen decided to subscribe to the “Cosmo After Dark” channel. If they did this (unlikely since you can still view the content on the channel whether or not you are subscribed), the channel would show up on their Subscriptions section of Discover.

The only thing Protect Young Eyes recommends parents can do is to ensure the birthdate is listed correctly for their underage user. Instructions on how to set the correct birthdate for a Snapchat user can be found at https://support.snapchat.com/en-US/a/settings-birthday

The Solution May Not Be Parental Controls, Though

So what can a concerned parent do to prevent his or her teen from accessing porn through Snapchat? The best prevention for promiscuous online behavior is always going to be relationship and honest conversation. Parental controls are good, yes. But they are hard to come by and they can’t protect against everything. For instance, you can have all kinds of controls set up for a phone or computer and your teen’s friend could send them an inappropriate picture out of the blue. Not to mention the things your teen might be exposed to at a friend’s house or on another person’s phone. The truth of the matter is, we aren’t going to be able to protect our kids 100 percent of the time. There are too many variables for us to control. Where safeguards and rules fail, we need relationship to help us know when there is a problem with our teens.

Do you have enough relational equity built up to be able to have frank conversations about sex, porn, sexting, and inappropriate content with your teen? If you don’t, I wouldn’t start with “Are you looking at that junk on Snapchat?! I certainly hope not!” If you don’t feel you have enough equity built up, personally I would start with a prayerful approach to grow closer to your teen, to a point where you can bring these things up (or better yet-your teen feels he or she can bring them up) without invoking the next Cold War. If you feel this kind of relationship is a long ways off and you’re really concerned now, is there another level-headed adult (preferably Christ-following) who can talk to your teen about this? How about the youth leader at church? It just needs to be someone your teen respects, trusts, and talks to.

If you do have relational equity built up with your teen, however, you are the best person to talk to your teen about Snapchat content. Honestly, you are. You are the one who cares for your teen with the best motives. So even if you’re not sure exactly how to bring it up, don’t let that stop you from doing something. Through the eye rolls and the embarrassed reactions and the sighs, deep down your teen knows you care about him or her. And they will be glad you said something, especially if you are rescuing them or preventing them from a lifetime of porn addiction. It can be a scary world out there on social media, and your teen feels that-whether or not he or she can articulate it

Start Asking Some Questions

So, with relational equity in mind, the following are some questions that you can use to strike up a conversation about Snapchat. (Note: Don’t pepper your teen with all these questions at once. Rather, start at a good point that is appropriate to your level of knowledge and ask a couple at a time as you are driving to school, sports practice, eating dinner, etc. Whatever you do, don’t knock on your teen’s bedroom door, say “we need to talk” and launch into a one-sided conversation that is really just a lecture. No kid ever likes this approach.) Your goal here is not to launch into a lecture. Your goal is to get your teen opening up about Snapchat. The less talking you can do, the better. If your teen discloses something concerning, take a few moments to process your thoughts, speak to your spouse if you’re able, and come up with a plan of action. But formulating this plan while you’re trying to get your teen to open up at the same time can be really hard. Always remember you can pick up the conversation at another time if you just don’t know what to say at that moment.

Do you use Snapchat?

Follow up (yes answer): What do you like about using it?

Follow up (no answer): Why not?

Would you ever use Snapchat (if you had a phone, etc.)?

Do your friends use Snapchat?

Follow up (yes answer): Do you ever look at their accounts?

Follow up (no answer): Why do people like it so much, do you think?

Have you ever looked at the Discover section?

Follow up (yes answer): What channels do you like to follow? Do they have good articles? Videos? What was the last one about that you read (or saw)?

Follow up (no answer): Oh so you just use it to keep up with your friends? What do they usually post about?

Have you ever seen anything on there that made you uncomfortable?

Follow up (yes answer): What did you do? Why do you think that made you uncomfortable?

Follow up (no answer): What do you think you would do if you did?

Have you ever seen porn? I promise I won’t be mad if you tell me. Nowadays you have to be extremely careful NOT to see it.

Follow up (yes answer): How did it make you feel? Why do you think it did that? How can I help you avoid it?

Follow up (no answer): What do you think you would do if you saw it?

Do you want to talk to me about anything?

If you’ve gotten to that last question and it feels like a natural flow of conversation (not like pulling teeth), this is a good time to talk about your family’s standards regarding content. These may be rules you have articulated until you’re blue in the face, but repetition can’t hurt here. You might even want to articulate those familiar rules as they specifically relate to Snapchat. If your teen is following those rules, don’t pass up the opportunity to praise him or her.

What About Not Allowing Your Teen to Use Snapchat?

Maybe you read those questions above and thought “Nope. No way my kid is going on Snapchat.” That is an option for you and your family. Protect Young Eyes suggests not letting a child under 15 on the app. Especially if you have a younger teen, like Jenny Rapson mentions she does in “SnapChat’s New Feature ‘Cosmo After Dark’ Is Porn-and There Are No Parental Controls”, just forgoing the whole thing might be your best option. The Discover section of Snapchat certainly isn’t the only reason parents should be cautious with this app.

Even if your teen isn’t on Snapchat, chances are high his or her friends are on it. Which means you probably want to have this conversation with your teen even if they don’t plan going to be on it. The fact also remains that with 75 percent of teens using SnapChat, it’s going to be hard for your teen not to feel left out at some point. That is another conversation you must have then, one talking through the reasons why your family is choosing not to participate in SnapChat.

One thing to keep in mind is that if your teen is moving off to college or out of your house in the next couple years or sooner, it’s often a good idea to give him or her some more liberties and freedoms in the wider world. If you think your teen will likely jump on the app the minute he or she is out from under your roof, I recommend considering letting him or her on it while still at home. That way when they make mistakes (and they will make mistakes!) they are still under your roof and your influence and you can help them walk through it. This is how they learn.

Whatever course your family chooses to take, this is the bottom line: You need to be talking to your teenagers about the content that is available to them on a daily basis. One thing I would emphasize is the concept of 1 Corinthians 6:12: “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say-but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything-but I will not be mastered by anything.'” It’s true that with increasing age and responsibility comes greater freedom, but part of maturing is understanding what is beneficial for you and what is not, and acting accordingly.

The above article, “The Snapchat and Porn Conversation You Need to Have, Today” was written by Megan Briggs. The article was excerpted from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170421113306.htm

The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”

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