Activist says Snapchat sextortion case shows parents need to wake up

Jul 3, 2019, 8:56 AM | Updated: 9:40 am

snapchat parents sextortion...

FILE: Image of Snapchat icon (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

(AP Photo/Richard Drew)

SALT LAKE COUNTY — Experts call the case of a 19-year-old man accused of sextortion via Snapchat a wakeup call to all Utah parents.

Gabe Gilbert, 19, of South Jordan, faces felony charges in a case that investigators say may have more than 50 victims.

Rewiring the brain

Collin Kartchner, a social media expert with the Save the Kids Foundation, says young brains are being re-wired – and not in a good way.

“Parents need to understand that when you give your kids a smartphone with access to the Internet, you are giving them a Playboy Magazine and saying, ‘Don’t look at this,'” Kartchner said. “It doesn’t matter how much they go to church or whatever. It is wiring their brains to have a false notion of how relationships work.”

Is Snapchat to blame?

Charging documents say Gilbert is accused of threatening teen girls unless they sent him explicit photos on the social media app Snapchat. Kartchner says the entire situation makes him sad for everyone involved: the victims as well as Gilbert.

“This is happening right now. It’s happening in our community. And it’s always happening through the same app. It’s happening through Snapchat,” Kartchner said.

Snapchat, he asserts, was created for sexting, and there’s no good reason for teens to be on the platform.

Snapchat launched in 2011 as a messaging platform. While users can share photos and videos publicly through a feature called “Stories,” privately messaged videos disappear by default after a single viewing. Photos sent as private message snaps can be seen for a user-specified length of time before disappearing.

Advice for parents

Kartchner says the story illustrates how important it is for parents to monitor their children online — if they even allow their children to have access in the first place. If teens make a mistake, he adds, it’s critical to make sure parents lead with love rather than shame.

“If we are going to give our kids access to this stuff, it’s like giving them a snake. And they get bit, and [if] we get upset with them for getting bit by the snake that we handed them, there’s something wrong with us,” he said.

Leading with love, he advises, begins with emboldening parents to have frank and open conversations and restricting their children’s access to what’s online.


We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


Utah backyard homes may become more abundant. (Megan Nielsen/Deseret News)...

Don Brinkerhoff

Utah cities are clearing the way for backyard homes

Several cities along the Wasatch Front are reportedly loosening their restrictions on so-called backyard homes.

4 days ago

Getting along with the in-laws can be a tricky - but essential - part of the marriage journey. Utah...

Emma Everett Johnson,

Struggling with in-laws? USU experts have some advice

Struggling with in-laws? You're not alone. The University of Utah has conducted a research study to help people out who have in-law troubles.

13 days ago

Foxtails are seeds dropped by wild grass. They can become easily attached to dog fur, as well as th...

Tammy Kikuchi

Dog moms and dads, be on the lookout for foxtail seeds

Wild grass seeds called foxtails can become embedded in a dogs fur, and may require surgery to remove.

16 days ago

59% of children targeted by predators online were 15 years old or younger, according to a new study...

Alexandrea Bonilla

Online enticement grows as children are targeted at younger ages

The median age of victims of online enticement is only 15 years old. Where are online predators getting to their victims?

17 days ago

food is sorted, kids more open to food insecurity during summer months...

Britt Johnson

Summertime leaves kids vulnerable to food insecurity

The president of the Utah Food Bank said kids who rely on school breakfast and lunch will face food insecurity this summer.

19 days ago

housing in rural utah...

Heather Peterson

New report explores similarities and differences in rural and urban Utahns

Researchers analyzed Census data, which showed that people in Utah’s urban and rural communities shared surprising similarities.

23 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...


Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Activist says Snapchat sextortion case shows parents need to wake up