Social Media’s Newest X-Rated Feature…

Yep, a social media platform has just released a new X-rated feature that is creating a lot of buzz. For parents and students alike the topic of social media use tends to be a heated discussion. Many parents have seen or know the damage that can be done when a student is exposed to inappropriate content. While students in middle to high school just want to stay connected with their friends and for their parents to begin to trust them more. And that’s where the tension enters! What is the right balance of wanting to protect your student versus allowing them to earn your trust and gain more responsibility?

What is this new feature and should you smash all of your phones right now!?! Well, maybe…maybe not. The popular app, SNAPCHAT, just released a new feature from Cosmos that will feature x-rated content. I won’t even list the descriptions here of what they are promising. And while it seems to be a no-brainer to at least restrict your child from SNAPCHAT, it’s really not that simple. Why? Because SNAPCHAT is not the only social media platform where sexually explicit images and videos can be found. While Instagram does a much better job of filtering and removing inappropriate pictures and videos, for every 1 they remove, 10 more show up. Even Facebook has it’s issues! But it doesn’t even stop with social media! Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube ALL have sexually explicit content that your student can easily access.

What do you do? Well, it depends! It depends on what phase of life your student is in. Of course, every student is different and as their parent you have to decide what you think is best, but there are some incredible resources that can help! I want to mention two steps you might consider taking to help set your student(s) up for success.

  1. Have conversations. I say conversations because this is not a one-time awkward talk and you’re done. Parenting is never that easy! Not all of these conversations have to be super-serious sit downs. You could have them while you’re driving to school, sitting at the dinner table or whenever you see them for more than 5 minutes. Talk about why it matters what they look at, listen to, and watch.

Luke 6:45 NLT, “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.” 

Not sure what to say? Check out this resource, Parenting Your Sixth Grader: A Guide to Making the Most of the “Who Cares” Phase. This one is for sixth graders, but there is one for every grade and each one is specific to what phase your student is typically going through in that grade. It is full of questions for you to ask your student and helpful advice on where to start trusting them more. The chapter on Sexual Integrity states, “Guarding my potential for intimacy through appropriate boundaries and mutual respect.” Here is one thing they recommend talking about,If you ever feel like someone is wanting you to do something you don’t want to do, you could always say…” And then you help them script responses to difficult situations. The reality is, even if you’re student isn’t looking for inappropriate content, it will at some point find them. So equip them to know how to respond when they do encounter it.

2. Implement Safe Guards. There are several really good resources out there to help all of us. One of these resources is Covenant Eyes.  They have two levels, filtering or accountability. Filtering helps to restrict access to mature content while accountability offers limited filtering, which sends a report of any suspicious content to an accountability partner of your choosing. This is a great resource that costs around $11 a month. You can use this app for just your children OR your whole family (sometimes adults need help with this too, and that’s okay!) You can even customize each users level of filtering or accountability.

Another great resource is Bark.  Bark is intended a little more for children and it does a great job. It filters apps like Snapchat and Instagram, but it also filters text messages. It pinpoints topics like bullying, sexting, depression and searches on apps and the internet. It immediately notifies the parent if it detects any of these topics and offers suggestions on what to do next. Since it only shares messages that could be dangerous it still offers some privacy to your child. This resource costs around $10 a month.

Neither of these resources trumps having open and honest conversations, but either is a great supplement to giving your child or you the upper hand in this fight for purity! We will never be able to identify every potential danger our students may encounter, but there is still hope! You can teach and equip them to know how to handle these situations. Parents, we believe in you!

* One bit of consolation is that as long as your student entered in their correct birthdate, SNAPCHAT’s x-rated feature will not be available to users under 18.