Warning: this post contains references to highly graphic material, not appropriate for young readers.
If you have ever needed more of a reason why you should seriously monitor and possibly downright ban your children’s use of social media, this is it.
Snapchat has no parental control features. Period. Why would they? The company was founded by two college students who wanted to sext discreetly. The entire concept of the social network–pictures and messages that disappear when they’re viewed–is one that creates a safe space for the illicit.
Still, it is unbelievable how wanton they are with their browsing features, particularly the introduction of the “Cosmo After Dark” channel in the app’s “Discover” section, which anyone, literally anyone, can access.
Protect Young Eyes has the story:
On May 18, 2018, Snapchat introduced a new channel in its Discover section called, “Cosmo After Dark.” Using its own language, the channel “is an X-rated weekly edition that goes live every Friday at 6 p.m. and is exclusively dedicated to all things hot and h*rny.” And, there’s nothing parents can do to turn it off.
Cosmo After Dark seems to include a new, more pornographic level of sexualized content, even by Snapchat’s standards. It’s for this reason that Protect Young Eyes is so concerned. Snapchat seems desperate. As a publicly traded company, making money is important. In the bloody waters of social media competition, it’s a feeding frenzy, and there are signs that Snapchat might not survive. Therefore, everything seems ok. They won’t say no to anyone.
Protect Young Eyes has obtained screenshots of exactly what kind of content Cosmo After Dark features, and these are reportedly the tamest examples they could find:
“The best sites to binge watch porn on” “5 Mind-Blowing Positions to Give You Multiple Orgasms” and “12 Songs You Should Have Sex to Right Now” are the least vulgar examples Protect Young Eyes could find, and again, these are readily available to anyone with the Snapchat app.
Protect Young Eyes says there’s little a parent can do to assure that their children aren’t stumbling across this X-rated content.
“Anyone using Snapchat can subscribe to this channel so that it remains in the ‘Subscriptions’ section of their Discover section. This is really the only way for a parent to know if the channel has been subscribed to, but only a really careless kid would actually subscribe,” they explain. “Instead, he or she would just peruse the content from time to time without anyone knowing.”
In their full article on Cosmo After Dark, they also offer a solution that might help: setting the birthday on your child’s phone until it locks so they can’t change it.
It’s unclear, however, if the pervasiveness of pornographic content on the internet seems far removed from any kind of quick fix. It’s out there, and it will find your children unless you take charge and seriously restrict what your children are exposed to. Once they’re browsing the dark corners of the internet, there’s no telling what they might stumble upon.
There are, still, a few important tools you can use to both enjoy the positive benefits of the internet and guard your children from the things they have absolutely no need to see. Protect Young Eyes recommends the BARK app for Snapchat, which they say is the most you can do to keep the app safe for young users.