Do today’s youth understand everything posted online is public?

private sign
Photo Credit: kahunapulej via Compfight cc

A common misconception today’s youth and students have with media is that if something is deleted it disappears forever.  A new, big trend that helps build this misconception is Snapchat. Snapchat is a program that allows users to send pictures to their friends that disappear in 10 seconds (this can be set lower if wanted)- this app was originally designed for messaging nude/sexual pictures and have them not saved to the recipients phone. Although many people claim they use it for “texting with faces”, research suggests sexting is actually a common use.

One of the reasons Snapchat had taken on this perception is because of this 10 second viewing time. Many students believed this to mean that once the 10 seconds is up, the photo completely deletes from history as if it never did exist. This thought is very dangerous as it comes across to students that they dont need to worry about the consequences of sending certain pictures because they’ll simply “disappear”. The big lesson students are missing is the idea that there is no such thing as complete online privacy. There are situations that occurred in schools from students taking a photo from the snapchat of a nude student, and the picture circulating. One case was involving 3 boys, aged 13-15, creating a site including 50 female middle/high school students either nude or semi-nude. Many students don’t understand that by sharing a nude photo of an underage individual they are actually partaking in child pornography. This is a dangerous misconception if students think they can send pictures to their friends/boyfriend/girlfriend and think that it will disappear in 10 seconds- individuals can screenshot, or take a picture, quite easily and send it to their friends circulating the image. Although this would seem harmless at the time, this is actually a criminal charge and has serious consequences.

   Today’s youth have fully grown up with the existence of technology and the internet. It is important, as an educator, to teach both netiquette and the consequences to certain actions completed online- such as the idea that things posted online are always public if people try hard enough to find them.


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