Snapchat has become infamous for making it all too easy for tweens and teens to bully and sext their way into hot water. But now the social media site is drawing heat for a new partnership with Cosmopolitan magazine that some say is giving kids access to porn. The channel in Snapchat's Discover section, "dedicated to all things hot and h*rny" offers some pretty explicit content in line with Cosmo's traditional sex tip offerings, such as where to access the best porn for women or new positions to try for the ultimate orgasm.
And that has some parents ready to lock up their kids' cell phones to avoid letting them get a good look. But I think it's all a little too much ado about nothing.
If your kid's age is correct in the app, you're good to go. The Cosmopolitan After Dark content is only available to Snapchat members over the age of 18—the same age where your child can legally go see an R-rated (or even X-rated) movie. So as long as your 12-year-old hasn't changed his age settings, he can't see it.
Your kids can still find Cosmopolitan at your newsstand, on the internet, and in your local library. The magazine's traditional site comes with plenty of sexually explicit content, available to pretty much anyone with an internet connection. There's nothing that I've seen on the After Dark channel that seems beyond the pale of what's already out there.
Instead of censoring, talk about it with your kids. Despite all the eye rolling they do, kids definitely listen to what their parents have to say. And while you and your kid will probably feel incredibly awkward doing it, it's important to talk about sex—more than once—as your child grows up. As with most things, it's better they learn about it from you than the internet.
I'd be less worried about what they see than what they do. I'll cop to rereading certain passages from my mom's Danielle Steele novels when I was around that age, and sneaking peeks at R-rated flicks when I was babysitting and my clients had cable. But I didn't move beyond that until I was ready—and until I was an adult. If my daughter sneaked a peek at a bare male butt online, I'd be a lot less worried than if she actually bared her breasts in a text to a boy she liked.
We're all a little uptight about the sex thing anyway. Blame our Puritanical ancestors, but it seems like a lot of us have our panties in a bunch about letting our kids access anything beyond a chaste kiss. And we're far more likely to let our kids watch violent content than something that's sexually graphic. Maybe we need to chill a little on letting our kids access a sex scene and be a little more worried about letting them watch the next guns-and-glory flick.
Your child will not die if she doesn't have Snapchat. Neither of my kids have been given access to the Snapchat—they have to wait until I'm fully up to speed on the nuances of an app before I give the green light, and they both stopped asking before I mastered the app myself. They haven't keeled over from embarrassment yet—and they still seem to do just fine connecting with their friends over text and FaceTime.