By ADITI KALLA, freshman
Snapchat needs no introduction. The app can be found on the smartphones of nearly every student at JP Stevens. Snapchat has introduced an ingenious concept to the world of social media: photos and messages that only last a couple of seconds, and then “vanish for good.” Though the app does provide a creative way to share photos and chat with friends, Snapchat is no white knight. The app’s misuse has been proven to negatively influence its teen users; many of the issues can be fixed easily by Snapchat, but the company has yet to make changes.
Snapchat, like all social media platforms, is a distraction. It serves not only as a distraction for students who should be studying, but also a distraction on the road. Snapchat’s influence on teens has proven to be extremely destructive, even lethal in certain situations. The infamous Speed Filter, which allows users to display the speed they are driving at, has been labeled one of the root causes of car accidents. Christal McGee, an 18-year-old, crashed her car into another vehicle on the highway while driving at a speed of 107 mph. Her reason for driving at twice the speed limit: to post a picture of herself moving at 100 mph, which has become a popular trend recently. The driver of the other vehicle spent several weeks in a coma and now suffers from permanent brain damage. McGee later posted a snap of herself in a neck brace, lying on a stretcher, with blood dripping from her face. Her caption read: “Lucky to be alive.” Whether it intends to or not, Snapchat is obliquely encouraging its users to “snap and drive” by offering the Speed Filter. In response to the accident, Snapchat added a warning message that reads “Please, DO NOT snap and drive” to help curb the use of the Speed Filter on the road. Now, let us be realistic; the majority of teens will disregard the message altogether. To make matters even worse, the message only appears on the filter once before disappearing forever (It seems that Snapchat is very attached to brief messages). One small warning will not convince teens of the dangers of “snapping” while driving. Snapchat needs to understand that entirely removing the Speed Filter from the app is the only way to prevent these car crashes from occurring. A blind eye can no longer be turned to the mounting evidence of Snapchat’s detrimental influence on teenage users.
Snapchat has easily become a new medium for teen harassment because its users fail to realize that their photos and chats are by no means private or erased once they are viewed. Many irresponsible teenagers use Snapchat to bully their peers through pictures and chat messages without the slightest bit of hesitation, believing that the evidence will soon vanish and they will never have to face the consequences. A student at Colonia High School in New Jersey was recently victimized by bullying on Snapchat; Saira Ali was in her school’s cafeteria wearing a hijab when another student took a video of her and posted it on Snapchat, with the caption “Isis” and a heart-eye emoji. The video became public after another student’s screenshot was circulated around the school and posted on social media, where it went viral almost immediately. The owner of the original video, who expected his video to be viewed by a few friends and then for it to disappear forever, consequently received much backlash and was chastised by people all over the internet. Such users often forget the loopholes others can use in order to save pictures: screenshotting, using app-hacks like Sneakaboo, or simply taking a picture of the Snapchat with a different device. Instead of solely offering a simple “reporting” feature to counter harassment, Snapchat needs to take more drastic steps to ensure that its users understand that their pictures and chats can be publicized anytime. By issuing public statements, educating its users directly through the app, and implementing harsher repercussions for cyberbullying, Snapchat can instill in its users a stronger awareness of what uses of the app are appropriate.
Teenagers are notorious for their rash judgement and impulsive behavior. Unfortunately, Snapchat is currently fostering such tendencies rather than curbing them. However, by making a few simple but impactful changes to its app, such as removing the Speed Filter and enabling users to report inappropriate pictures, Snapchat could save numerous lives and promote a safer platform for communication. If the app remains as is, more teens will only fall victim to Snapchat’s overlooked shortcomings.