The Snappening – Will it change the way young people use Snapchat?

A few days ago, the word Snappening began to make headlines. A suspected leak of thousands of images of young people had been claimed to have been ‘saved’ from the online app, Snapchat.

According to the report from The Telegraph, hackers accessed around 100,000 private photos and videos of Snapchat users over several years using a third-party service that saves images. Many have then appeared on the 4Chan website. As half of Snapchat’s users are aged between 13 and 17, there is concern many of the images might be of children.

For people of a certain age (or should that be, over a certain age), Snapchat is an enigma – in short, it is a messaging app allowing users to send images to one another to accompany a message on the basis that the image will disappear moments later.

Having recently spent many evenings in the company of someone under that age, the constant click of the electronic shutter aroused my curiosity and I questioned the appeal of using the app. I was told that ‘everyone uses it’ and that was quite simply the main attraction, despite her later admittance that she really couldn’t see the point! There is of course also an element of vanity, why else would it take several attempts to capture the perfect pose for this ‘temporary’ image.

So, when the Snappening first made the headlines, I turned to her to gauge the reaction. Initially there was a little shock (despite knowing that the images could be captured from Snapchat even before the leak), but that soon turned to indifference. It seems that for this particular peer group, only faces make it into the ‘chat’, so there was no concern that anything inappropriate could be leaked – and ‘so what’ if their faces were!

In this case, all of the images have been innocent, but it doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination to see how young people could see the attraction of sharing a fleeting image on the belief that it will only appear for a few seconds before disappearing forever. It seems that they are a little misguided on the power of the Internet and the technology surrounding it. A colleague recently commented “the internet, a hard drive or anything digital leaves a trail! It's like etching in glass, you can smooth it out but if you use a microscope you will see that the image is still embedded into the core of the material like the imperfections in a diamond, invisible to the naked eye”.

So perhaps rather than seeing this as an isolated case only affecting Snapchat, we should be re-visiting the concept of the digital footprint and remind pupils that once something is on ‘The Internet’, be that words or pictures, you lose control. It is also an ideal opportunity to raise the subject of cyber bullying and sexting with pupils who may be using this or similar sites.

For now though, it seems that I am due for more evenings being punctuated with the constant click of the shutter, while the Snapchatting continues until it ceases to be the thing that “everyone” is doing.

If you would like to share your thoughts on this topic, please let us know by using the comments section below

Written by E-safety Support on October 15, 2014 11:33

The many faces of the selfie

A video which went viral recently was that of a father who had captured his daughter taking endless selfies, innocently pulling an array of faces at herself, for that one perfect 'selfie'. I have to confess to being a little amused at the sheer determination of the young lady involved and her apparent focus on the task - if only all students could apply this level of concentration in the classroom...!

It is unfortunate that something which can clearly cause so much entertainment can also have a negative side too - we have heard many stories about selfies being used for sexting and how they can have serious consequences for all concerned. However, in a recent article from market research company Vobxurner, they identify some of the less innocent selfie trends that are also emerging.

Distasteful hashtags

Young consumers are taking to using rather unnerving selfies accompanied by even more unnerving hashtags. Snapping away at funerals (#funeralselfie) and with homeless people (#homelessselfie) is considered a ‘thing,’ and shows how a fun and positive trend can flip 180 into being dark, sinister and so blatantly disrespectful.

The young and vulnerable

Young girls are hashtagging the #thighgap trend, which came about earlier this year, closely followed by the #bikinigap. To explain, the thigh gap is the gap in between the legs, that only skinny people (or people with wide-set hips) can attain, and the bikini gap is when your hip bones protrude creating a gap in between a girl’s, or boy’s for that matter, bikini bottoms or trunks. This scary phase is promoting an unhealthy lifestyle, especially for teenage girls who are so vulnerable and at risk of eating disorders.

Kim Kardashian’s ‘Selfish’ book

It would be a crime to write an article on the subject of selfies without Kim K’s name being mentioned. The queen of selfies has created a book titled, ‘Selfish,’ which simply contains a whole load of selfies. Dubbed narcissistic by many, this shows how everyone has become somewhat self-absorbed. Or perhaps we always were and this is just a new way to document it. As the Wall Street Journal put it so aptly, "Get over your selfie.”

Dangerous surrounds

People are going to extreme measures and putting themselves in danger to take that absolutely perfect selfie.

Most recently a couple fell to their death after trying to take a snapshot while on holiday in Lisbon, Portugal. Meanwhile an Italian girl plunged 60ft to her death as she attempted to take a selfie while on rocks in the seaside town of Taranto.

If this doesn’t prove the trend has gone too far, nothing will.

Anti-selfies

There’s now an ‘anti-selfie’ app to counteract the countless number of selfies continuously surfacing on the Internet. SLMMSK comes with a special set of filters. Users simply turn on the camera function to get some of the best obscuring filters around. Thanks to the app’s facial detection technology, users can recreate and edit images so as to hide the fact that that it was originally a selfie. There’s the option to blur your face, hide your eyes, cover yourself with emojis or just add a frown in real-time.

If you have spotted a selfie trend among your school community, please let us know by using the comments section below.

Written by E-safety Support on September 04, 2014 10:37

Youngsters understand technology better than adults - true or false?

Typing on a computer keyboardIt’s an old adage, perpetuated by the media, that children and young people understand technology better than adults in their mid 40’s and beyond, but is this correct?

As an ICT teacher, I have, on occasions, had the pleasant experience of a student approaching me and saying that when they have been playing around at home with a software package that we’ve been using in school, they have discovered something really cool. They then demonstrate their new knowledge and, with a mischievous glint in their eye, ask me “did you know you could do that sir?” Now, when I declare that I did not, they respond by saying “but, how come you’re the teacher and now I’m teaching you stuff?”

In it’s recently published annual study of British consumers, the communications watchdog OfCom states that the advent of broadband in or around the start of this new millennium, created a generation of digital natives, the youngest of which are learning to operate digital devices before they are able to talk.

According to OfCom, these youngsters are “…developing fundamentally different communication habits from older generations, even compared to the 16 - 24 year old age group.”

For this research, the watchdog developed a ‘digital quotient’ (DQ) test measuring awareness and self confidence around technology from smartphones to smart watches, awareness and understanding of super-fast broadband, 4G networks and mobile apps.

The watchdog studied 800 children and 2000 adults and in the 6 to 7 year old age group the average DQ score was 98, whilst for those in the 45 - 49 age group the average DQ score was 96. The research demonstrated that digital understanding peaks around the ages of 14 -15, with a DQ score of 113. It then gradually reduces through adult years and drops significantly in old age.

Back to my cheeky student, standing in front of me with a gleeful, self-satisfied grin on their face. I explain that although I’m the teacher, they, as a care-free, youngster, possess far more of a precious commodity than me, which allows them, at will, to meander through the tools and functionality of an app…

Time!

And I believe this is one of the reasons why, apparently, this phenomena occurs. The average young person comes home from school and after (hopefully) completing homework and eating a meal, the evening is pretty much their own to do as they please, so, should they be inclined to play with a web design package or try to write a program in a particular computer language or even just become familiar with an app that all their friends have been using, they have the time to do just that. Adults, on the other hand, have careers, family duties and other commitments that constantly demand their time and therefore have limited opportunity (and also the energy) to raise their awareness and learn what the latest technology can offer them, unless it is necessary for their work.

It is also my opinion that young peoples’ susceptibility to fashions or trends is a contributory factor to this issue.

OfCom’s report stated that whereas 18% of the children used the picture messaging app. ‘Snapchat’ and a further 11% knew a lot about it, almost half of the adults questioned had never heard of it. Could it be that once adults find out about say, a social networking app. and learn how to use it, they do not see the point of learning how to use another app that appears to do the same thing - just with pictures, purely because it happens to be ‘in’?

Indeed, many teachers use Facebook - the original social networking site but, how many have you ever over heard say “D’yer know what, Facebook is just so ‘yesterday’, I’m moving over to Snapchat!”?

What do you think of this issue? Do you believe that just because young people have grown up in the ‘digital age’ they are inherently better equipped to use technology and to immerse it into their lives? Or do you think it’s just that they have the free-time to find out about what tech is cool to use and how to do it? Do you think that there are other reasons? Comment below and let us know your thoughts.

Written by Steve Gresty on August 20, 2014 08:26


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