In a world where everything you post online is archived somewhere and saved for eternity, a photo sharing app that destroys your photos/videos within seconds of being received has some appeal. Snapchat is the leader in this field (it was recently the third most popular free photo app in iTunes) and Facebook has a competitive, but less popular app called Poke. If you are over 40, you probably have never heard of Snapchat, but if you have kids under twenty-five, they probably have and possibly are among the users that have are sending over 20 million snaps a day.
So what is Snapchat used for? The big trend among teens and young adults is using Snapchat to send racy photos or engage in sexting (i.e. sexual activity via cellphone.) Unfortunately, despite the claim to destroy snaps (photos and videos) within a user-set time (from one to ten seconds), Snapchat is not consequence-free. It is possible for users to side-step Snapchat’s defined functions, and save screenshots of photos received. The lesson we need to send our kids is that it is never okay to send nude photos, no matter how “secure” you feel the medium is. To learn more about the consequences of sexting, read Sexting 101 from Mary Kay.