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Kirrawee High School

Kirrawee High School

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Issue focus - Snapchat

The progression of students through the high school years can be a worrying time for parents as they consider how much autonomy to give their children with device use and the applications they can access.

There are many great aspects of social media, including being able to keep in touch with valued people who may not live near us and sharing successes. There are, however, numerous risks that can arise. As teens navigate the establishment of social hierarchy, which is an area for youth development that often sees antisocial behaviour occur, it is improtatant that young people are guided, reflective, and regulated of their use of social media.

As a school we see significant issues occur via the use of Snapchat. Teens use Snapchat to send quick pictures (snaps) to each other and send messages, sometimes under an alias.

There is a belief that messages are deleted after 24 hours meaning teens prefer this application. This also means Snapchat is often used for antisocial reasons including bullying and sometimes extortion. Teens really need to understand that the content they share can be saved and shared and may never go away. It's best to have this conversation before they download Snapchat, but it's never too late. If you haven't already, we recommend having a discussion with your child about the types of things they are aware have been sent via Snapchat messages.

It's quite easy for strangers to add people on Snapchat. young people can end up with a lot of people they don't know who are able to track their location and depending on your child's settings, the app can collect a lot of data about your child's habits. The gratifaction of many contacts can cause increased safety issues for teens. 

As a parent you can support your child's use by visiting the family centre, set up by Snapchat. This can assist you get more insight into who your children are friends with on Snapchat, and who they have been communicating with, while still respecting their teens’ privacy and autonomy.

Ultimately, we suggest having a conversation with your child, which can often be uncomfortable, about what is and isn't appropriate content and messages to send other people. Sometimes we ask students, how would you feel if everything you send on Snapchat is visible on the internet in a few years time?

The more we understand about the applications our children use, the better we can support them.