Snap it Off!

07-29-2018Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

One thing we all know about most young people, mostly based on our own experience as former young people, is that young people will do stupid things. The difference today, as opposed to just ten or so years ago, is that young people also take photos of everything. So, put it together and we have young people doing stupid things and taking photos of themselves doing stupid things.

This is where real trouble starts. What may be innocent enough, when memorialized in a photo can seem to others as a nefarious action. I have watched many young people from as young as eight years old get into serious trouble, including being under criminal investigation over the photos they took of something they thought was just stupid fun. Often times their reputations are harmed, friendships are ended, expulsion from school and other heavy consequences follow them.

So, when someone sent me this tweet by another priest, I thought “right on Father”.

There are lots of dangers lurking in our smartphones. But at the top of the list is “Snapchat”. Though it sells itself as being able to make photos and messages disappear after a time, they can still be saved in cyberspace.

You can save yourself and your child a lot of heartache by saying goodbye to Snapchat. But you might say, “my child would never have this problem” and you may be right but you can’t control what other young people send to your child’s smartphone or the photos they take of your child. I have watched the “innocent bystander” who appears in a photo get caught up in this mess or even when your child is not in the photo but it is sent to your child they can become an accomplice after the fact.

Hopefully, you as parents can get rid of Snapchat without being a tyrant or causing too much resentment. But when it comes to non-negotiables, they are non-negotiable. Just as we make a young person wait until they are 16yrs old to begin driving, and even then they have restrictions or wait until 21yrs old to consume alcohol, full, unfettered use of smartphone apps should also be age appropriate.

Parenting in the 21st Century is not turning out as we hoped. Today, most young people know how to use smartphones and apps much better than their parents. Being one step ahead of your children is not so easy these days when it comes to technology. New land mines seem to pop up overnight. I strongly suggest clearing away this land mine before it blows up your child’s life.


Fr. John B.