The recent death of sixteen year old Sarah Hayali, a resident of Marlboro, NJ, has been confirmed by coroners to be related to the use of the popular new cellphone application Snapchat, AP reports. The application, designed and released by publisher Snapchat Inc, is the latest in a long line of new teen trends that allow users to send photos of themselves to other users.
While the majority of photo applications on the market are for personal use or necessitate a following or being followed by a group of friends of celebrities, Snapchat aimed to move beyond the norms.
“Photographs are art, and art necessitates viewers to be worth anything, but art should also communicate and demand an immediate visceral response” Jay Reginold, founder of Snapchat Inc. said at the launch of the application. “With this in mind, we aimed to create an application that allows users to send photos that are visible for just a short amount of time before being locked. The best part is that it can be totally anonymous, allowing full free expression. ”
The intersection of possible anonymity with photos being available for a limited time led to a rapid uptick in the amount of sexting, or texting of a sexual nature, within the application itself.
“It was only a matter of time,” said internet and sexuality specialist Dr. Amanda Hugankiss. “What we see with Snapchat now, that is really the most frightening aspect, is the lengths teens will go to make themselves stand out against the sexual landscape. That is where these deaths are occurring – where teens try something new, and dangerous.”
For many parents, this dire prediction is too little too late.
“Had I know my daughter was using this bastion of sin,” Isaac Hayali, mother of Sarah told us, “I would never have allowed it! To think I found her naked, after she fell down the stairs trying to take a selfie of herself with her leg balanced on the banister. I don’t know what got in her head to try something that physical. She could barely make it up the stairs in one go.”
“If she was going to do something like that,” continued Gretchen Hayali, Sarah’s mother, “She should have at least used Vine. She most likely would have made the front page. I heard at a PTA meeting that #snuff is really very popular nowadays.”
For many parents, these examples are just signs of a worsening technological landscape to raise children in. Education about the dangers of sexting remains the best defense measure against these types of dangerous new teen trends, emphasizes Dr. Hugankiss.
photo credit: digitaltrends.com