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 Safeguarding Essentials 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.


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 Safeguarding Essentials on September 04, 2014 10:37

How can SRE advise today's generation on continuing e-safety concerns?

Cyber Self HarmGNRN? PAW? Mean anything to you? These are acronyms or text language being used to facilitate the teen pastime of 'sexting'; it is currently estimated that at least 39% of teens are doing it. But it's not just all about the language; the sending of sexually suggestive pictures via phones, as we all know, is also a big problem in schools where photos become viral at the touch of a button. Before the sender knows it, the whole school can see them and teachers are left trying to ascertain who’s to blame and whether to involve outside agencies.

As educators, we are obliged to make intricacies of the law such as the possession and usage of images clear for our students. During my time teaching on workshops about this subject I frequently hold a class questionnaire on common scenarios; my observations are that on nearly all counts adolescents do not have a good handle on the law in this area. Knowing the law helps students make informed decisions and can make the difference in their behaviour; you can see ‘lightbulb’ moments when things are clarified and the realisation that something that can start of as ‘a bit of fun’ can actually be a prosecutable offence. A good example of this is when a male Year 10 student took some pictures for fun of another boy whilst getting changed for P.E, he then sent it to the rest of the class, he was completely aghast to know that his actions could be seen as distribution of indecent images of a person under 18.

Cyber bullying is still prevalent, being the medium of choice for many bullies who enjoy the power of being able to subject victims to nasty texts 24/7. I imagine for the victim it feels like a mixture of stalking and bullying, unable to escape the contact and not knowing in some cases who is doing it. It can be a challenge to reach the conscience of young people at times; they are still honing empathy skills and perhaps lack the maturity to see the consequences of their actions. This is where pre-planned lessons can really help; with these plans you can use real life stories as examples of the cause and effect of certain actions. Students can then relate to this, helping them see the ramifications of their behaviour.

Furthermore, sharp increases are being reported by CEOP in paedophiles’ targeting youngsters online to ‘groom’ them as a way of getting them to pass photos and take part in sexual talk through social networking sites. Sex offenders may be finding it easier to gain gratification this way, perhaps with less risk of being caught? Yet another sign of the times is that schools are having to shoulder the responsibility of warning students against such risks.

Complex issues require a head on approach; the E-safety Support assemblies and lesson plans provide an excellent opportunity to get the message across quickly and effectively to a large number of students. Many benefits are also seen in delivering to specific classes and year groups or targeted students identified as being vulnerable, acting as an early intervention strategy. The PowerPoints provided here really make this easy and problem free; the prescriptive nature of the assembly plan means that perhaps less experienced colleagues can gain confidence and feel comfortable giving information on this subject. It also makes the law surrounding this complex subject much clearer, which can only serve to act as a deterrent or at best a second thought before pressing send.

NB: text acronyms from above; GNRN = get naked right now and PAW = parents are watching

If you have any thoughts on this topic, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us using the form below.

Written by Vicki Dan on March 19, 2014 10:03

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