Snapchat Hacked! Do you know where your kid’s photos are?

Having compromising photos show up on the internet is the worst thing imaginable for many adults. Just ask any number of celebrities who had their ‘private’ photos hacked and leaked to the world wide web how they feel about their presumed privacy after this incident. Actress Jennifer Lawrence equated the iCloud breach to a sex crime.

Snapchat is an app that claims to only hold photo messages for 10 seconds and then they disappear.  Users who authorized third-party applications related to this app had their photos accessed and leaked. However, the victims of this latest invasion of privacy were children — tweens and teenagers for the most part — who are the principal users of the popular application.

From elementary to high school, if you look for the symbol below on your child’s smartphone, odds are they have it…and use it. Snapchat The popular photo-based application seems harmless at first, but as many have found out the hard way, there is no way to guarantee that a quick screen-grab or third-party application didn’t capture that over-exposing shot meant for your eyes only.

If kids aren’t careful about what kind of photos they are sending to their friends, they can get in big trouble if one of those friends turns our to be a frien-enemy.

A recent incident a fellow concerned mother told me about explains this use better. A student drew a lewd design on the photo of a teacher’s face, and then sent the photo to his group of friends via Snapchat, or Snapchatters, thinking it was funny. The principal didn’t think it was funny after one of the friends in the group who received the photo decided to take a screenshot of it, and marched into the school office to show it to him. The word got around quickly that maybe doing that wasn’t such a good idea — especially after the student was suspended and couldn’t participate in school activities like Prom.

According to reports, about 200,000 Snapchat accounts were hacked and photos of kids in less-than-decent poses were exposed on the internet. To be clear, Snapchat itself was not compromised, but the applications tied to the app, which are allowed by the user to capture the images, are the guilty parties.

This was posted on the Snapchat blog this week:

When you give your login credentials to a third-party application, you’re allowing a developer, and possibly a criminal, to access your account information and send information on your behalf.

I was introduced to Snaptchat by my then high-school-aged kids. I also downloaded the app to be able to exchange photos with them. Needless to say, within a few days I didn’t find the app amusing at all. And in the words of my tech-savvy kids, I just didn’t get it. They were right. And I still don’t get it!

As parents, it is becoming rather impossible to monitor everything our children are doing online with their smartphones (which is quite scary when you realize the power those little cell phones have). However, it is imperative for parents to become educated about the latest trends using up your child’s time and your data plans.

I wrote a blog post a few years back about how kids think that once they have a cell phone it’s theirs. And it’s private. I also proposed back then, that the first step a parent has to make clear when handing over a smartphone to their child is that the phone is “on loan” to them because we, the parents, are paying the bill. Yes, it’s a rather uncomfortable negotiation, but one that is best done as soon as your child gets their first cell phone — which these days seems to be around second grade! The same thing goes for a tablet or laptop.

It’s important to establish this proprietorship of your child’s devises early on because this way you will also have the right to check them at any time you damn well please, right?

At dinner tonight, why not bring up the topic of this latest Snapchat snafu with the family? You might be surprised to hear that your kids already know about it. The next obvious question will be to ask them if they will continue to use it or not — or perhaps it’s you that will determine that.

In the end, the best policy to ensure these types of scandals don’t reach your homes is to not take naked photos in the first place. Lessons about self-respect and respect for others has to start at home, and likely well before second grade!

How do you use these scandals as teachable moments for your kids?


  1. laura says:

    It’s crazy how quickly technology has grown, and continues to grow, since I was in high school. All of this, all of the joys, all of the cautions and troubles, was never a thought back then. And here it is in full force and constantly in our faces.
    Our children are not old enough yet to have a smart phone or be on the computer unmonitored, but these discussions still happen between my husband and I, and we still talk about computer and internet safety with our children. And more importantly, self respect.

    • Suzette Valle says:

      Oh, Laura, I know. I hope more parents like yourselves are as aware and cautious about unleashing technology in their tiny kid’s hands before they understand the power, and the consequences, of using it unsupervised — as you correctly said it, mama!

  2. Angela says:

    I was just telling my husband about this. I’m glad my kids aren’t of age to be using this stuff, yet! I just hope they will have common sense to not use it the way some teens have. It’s so sad. I know it starts with us as parents for sure.

    • Suzette Valle says:

      Hi Angela, it’s great that you’re already aware of these things for when your kids are of age. Good to be informed!

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