Snapchat is very popular among teens. It's a phone app that allows users to send photos and videos (called snaps) to other users. However, unlike with photos or videos sent via text or email, those sent on Snapchat disappear seconds after they're viewed. Snapchat does have some risks, so it's important for parents to be aware of how it works. Use this guide to Snapchat to help keep your tween or teen safer online.
What Is Snapchat?
Snapchat allows users can send time-limited photos that might be embarrassing or just silly without a significant fear that an image will find its way to other social media sites where it might live forever. With Snapchat, teens have a way to interact that feels authentic and fun. It's meant to be low-pressure and low-stakes.
This sense of freedom and low consequences can encourage kids to send more questionable pictures than they normally might. Unfortunately, there are ways to capture and recover images sent via Snapchat, which is why no one should develop a false sense of security about them.
How Snapchat Works
Once a teen downloads the Snapchat app, they create an account and set a password. The app then accesses their cellphone contacts to load friends to the app, or they can add other friends beyond their contact list.
Once they load the app and log in, they can take a photo, edit it, and add a filter, caption, or stickers. Then they select the friends to send the photo to and set a timer from one to 10 seconds. After the photo is sent, the receiver has that much time to look at the photo before the message "self-destructs."
Friends can then take their own photos to reply or just send a text message back.
The Origins of Snapchat
Snapchat was developed by two Stanford University students who felt emoticons weren't sufficient to transmit the emotion someone might wish could be sent with a text message.
But they were also nervous that a quick snap of a cellphone camera showing a particular emotion might end up being inappropriate for a social media site where the picture could be posted for all the world to see. Thus, the concept of a time-limited photo-sharing application was born.
Snapchat is wildly popular with teens. About 41% of teens ages 13 to 17 using the app, according to the Pew Research Group. Consider these stats, compiled by Omnicore:
- In 2020, Snapchat had an average of 218 million daily active users that generated over three billion snaps a day.
- Active Snapchatters open the app 30 times a day.
- More than 60% of active Snapchatters create new content on a daily basis.
- On average, users spend 49.5 minutes a day on Snapchat and send 34.1 messages a day.
Parental Concerns About Snapchat
Despite its popularity, parents are right to be concerned about Snapchat. It has a host of issues that can compromise kids' safety.
First, Snapchat doesn't save pictures and messages sent so you can see them later. So it is very hard for parents to monitor their teen's activity on Snapchat. Even if you have a monitoring tool that allows you to see the content of your child's phone remotely, you won't be able to see what was sent and then automatically deleted. That may raise some concerns.
Second, while the photo message disappears after a few seconds, the receiver can take a screenshot of the photo while it's live. That means it's not really gone.
If a receiver takes a screenshot of the photo, the sender is notified. But the receiver can still easily share the photo with others.
A receiver could also take a photo of the screen with another phone or digital camera to evade the notification feature. Then the sender would not know that their supposedly evaporating photo is preserved on someone else's device.
Finally, because of the lower risks of having a photo eventually making the rounds of the Internet, it's also tempting for teens to use Snapchat for sexting.Snapchat itself admits that up to 25% of users may send sensitive content on a regular basis “experimentally.”
What Teens Need to Know About Sexting
One father, whose daughter was being bullied via Snapchat—a reportedly all-too-common occurrence—was able to use this workaround for good when he recorded one of the bullying snaps by taking a video of it on his own phone.
Parents who allow their children to have Snapchat need to have a serious discussion with their kids about the risks associated with the false sense of security that Snapchat may provide.
Other Snapchat Features
In addition to photo sharing and messaging, Snapchat has other features that parents should be aware of.
Snap Map allows users to share their location in real time with anyone on their Snapchat friend list and see the locations of their friends who do the same. The feature is a way to use the location services already available in many other smartphone apps.
Since some Snapchat contacts may not be real friends, this is a big safety risk. It can also be a source of hurt feelings if kids feel excluded from a gathering.
Unless there's a specific event and it makes it easier for friends to know each other's location, experts advise leaving Snap Map off or using it in "ghost mode," which allows you to see the location of friends who haven't hidden their locations.
The Discover feature allows users to see content from popular media channels—many of which may offer sexually oriented content.Although Snapchat's terms of service discourage explicit content, these channels include images posted from magazines, television stations, and other content providers that can be inappropriate for children.Consider this when deciding at which age to allow your child to use Snapchat.
Some of the popular channels featured on Discover include MTV, Cosmopolitan, Vice, and BuzzFeed.
A lawsuit filed in California in 2016 cited some offensive Snapchat Discover content including "people share their secret rules for sex" and "10 things he thinks when he can't make you orgasm."Some parents may not be comfortable with their tweens and teens having immediate access to articles like these.
A Snapstreak is when two users have snapped back and forth within a 24-hour period for three days in a row. Once this occurs, a flame emoji and a number will appear next to the users' names to show how long the streak has been maintained. Maintaining streaks is very important to teens because streaks allow kids to interact socially and feel part of something many of their peers are doing.
For many kids, they're a measure of their friendships. Experts worry, though, that the pressure of keeping a streak going—teens are often maintaining many streaks at the same time—may take a toll on kids.
How to Talk to Your Teen About Friendship
Snapchat Safeguards for Teens
It's important to note that Snapchat does have a minimum age of 13, which is in compliance with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. When it's downloaded, Snapchat asks for date of birth, and if the user is under 13, they are redirected to the kid version, called "SnapKidz," which is more restrictive than Snapchat (for instance, you can't add friends or share anything).
Some teens may be mature and responsible enough to use Snapchat safely at age 13, but others may need several years more, As their parent, you are the best judge of when your child is ready to use Snapchat. You can also decide to let them try it out, but if you feel they aren't using it appropriately, you can put it on pause until they're ready to try again.
It's not uncommon for underage kids to find a workaround(that is, using a fake birthdate) so they can open an account.
A Word From Verywell
Snapchat can be a fun and engaging app when used appropriately, carefully, and with very specific ground rules. Apps like Snapchat remind parents that they need to be vigilant about their children's smartphone use and talking to them about expectations for their activity to prevent problems like sexting, cyberstalking, cyberbullying, or other potential downsides of smartphone use by children.
Common Sense Media rates Snapchat OK for teens 16 and up, mainly because of the exposure to age-inappropriate content and the marketing ploys, such as quizzes, that collect data.What Every Parent Needs to Know about Snapchat? ›
What should parents know about Snapchat. Snapchat typically deletes images shortly after they've been viewed by the recipient. But it does provide a way for images to be saved and it's important for teens to understand this so that they avoid sending inappropriate images.Why are parents against Snapchat? ›
That said, parents' concern over Snapchat isn't limited to fears of unwanted contact between teens and potentially dangerous adults. At its core, Snapchat's disappearing messages feature makes it easier for teens to engage in bullying, abuse and other inappropriate behavior, like sexting.Can Snapchat be monitored by parents? ›
Snapchat launches parental controls to help manage teens' social media use Snapchat's Family Center lets parents see whom their teen is contacting, but not their messages. Parents can also confidentially report accounts that concern them, without their child's knowledge.Should I let my 15 year old daughter have Snapchat? ›
Snapchat Safeguards for Teens
Some teens may be mature and responsible enough to use Snapchat safely at age 13, but others may need several years more, As their parent, you are the best judge of when your child is ready to use Snapchat.
Yes, the minimum age is 13, in compliance with the U.S. Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Snapchat ask for a date of birth upon sign up, and if the birth date indicates that the user is under 13, they're not allowed to create an account.Should my 12 year old be allowed Snapchat? ›
Parents should consider whether children are mature enough to navigate explicit content and whether they know how to think about the potential impact of what they post. That said, when used responsibly, Snapchat can be a positive outlet for older kids to explore their creativity and connect with friends.What are the cons of Snapchat for parents? ›
Parents have a tough time monitoring Snapchat because all the content disappears quickly. In which case, it's hard to know whether your child is: Engaging in inappropriate behavior. Being bullied.What are the negative effects of Snapchat? ›
Cyberbullying can put kids at risk for mental health issues & social problems. Many studies have shown that using social media platforms can decrease the quality of sleep, which can be damaging to kids' health. Fear of Missing Out or FOMO is another downside of using Snapchat.Is using Snapchat a red flag? ›
Respondents said those who use the app too much can come off as self-absorbed, which is a sign of low confidence. Additionally, 80% said that someone being too into Snapchat is a red flag. Not only might it signal that the person is self-absorbed, but it also creates more opportunities to flirt and cheat, users said.
If you wish to delete your teen's Snapchat account and are unable to compel them to divulge or enter their password, you may submit a deletion request to Snapchat by completing the form located at www.snapchat.com/static_files/deletion_request.pdf.How can I monitor my childs Snapchat? ›
- Download and Install AirDroid Parental Control on your device. Open the app on your phone, and you will be directed to the sign-up page. ...
- Download AirDroid Kids on your kid's Android phone and open the app. ...
- You can see what your kid does on Snapchat.
On the account that you don't want them to see, go back to the ghost at the top of your camera screen, press it and then go to, “My Friends.” After that go to “Contacts” at the top and then scroll to whoever you don't want to see your Snapchat, click on their name, click on the wheel in the screen that pops up with ...How can I see my child's Snapchat messages iPhone? ›
Click the 'messages' feature located between calls and media. Under messages click 'IM' and then Snapchat. Check the collected data and view what your kids have been up to. Good for monitoring Snapchat activities done on IOS devices.Does Snapchat record your screen? ›
Screen recording on Snapchat via Android phone is easy. There are no complications in the process, even for a beginner. For starters, make sure that the in-built screen recording functionality of Android is enabled via Settings. It will help initiate the recording immediately from the Action Center.Why do kids want Snapchat? ›
Snap is popular with kids because their friends are on it and their parents aren't. The primary developmental task of tweens, teens, and young adults is to figure out who they are in relation to their social world.How private is Snapchat? ›
Snaps and Chats, including Voice and Video Chats, between you and your friends are private — we don't scan their content to create profiles or show you ads. This means we typically don't know what you're saying or Snapping unless you ask us to (for example, if you opt-in to Voice Chat transcripts).Is there a kid friendly version of Snapchat? ›
The newest feature is an in-app tool called Family Center that allows parents to oversee their children's accounts.What is the main purpose of Snapchat? ›
Snapchat is an app that empowers people to express themselves, live in the moment, learn about the world, and have fun together.
For parents of children under 18, says Altimare, it's important to understand the dangers of this feature as it can almost be impossible to see what snaps are being sent or received—which makes it easier for inappropriate content or bullying content to be shared and sent.
The reason your parents might not want you to have Snapchat is because of the stories from media outlets such as MTV and Buzzfeed. Your parents might be worried about inappropriate content showing up on these stories. Promise to not watch these stories if you get Snapchat.Is Snapchat or Instagram safer? ›
Moreover, Instagram also allows you to restrict profiles and to select people so that they can not see your stories. Now, the question- which is safer, Snapchat or Instagram, can be confidently answered that Snapchat is much more secure and private for texting.How do I know if my child has Snapchat? ›
mSpy: The Most Effective App to Monitor a Child's Snapchat
Well, it's possible to view your kid's Snapchat activity using powerful tracking apps such as mSpy. With mSpy, you can conveniently track your loved one's Snaps, shared media, chats, and even view their vanished messages on Snapchat.
Many parents don't think so. Snapchat has a host of features that not only can expose kids to objectionable content but also possibly jeopardize their privacy and safety.What effects does Snapchat have on mental health? ›
It Triggers Sadness and Social Isolation
This discrepancy is enough to make you feel dissatisfied and can contribute to mental health problems, such as depression, body image issues, or even social isolation.
- Drive traffic.
- Boost engagement.
- Build brand awareness.
- Connect with a younger demographic and attract new followers.
- Influence purchases.
- Offer another way to consume content.
- It shows you're human.
- Build trust.
Snapchat, like many social media apps, does list an age requirement in its terms of service stating that no one younger than 13 years old should have an account. Statistics show that over 290 million people use Snapchat daily, and a lot of them are tweens and teens, despite the app's age limit.What should you avoid on Snapchat? ›
DON'T: Screenshot someone's photo without permission. DON'T: Send what you post on your story to people. It's just RUDE!Why is Snapchat the safest social media? ›
Snapchat prohibits harassment, bullying, hate speech, impersonation, threats, criminal activity, violence against women, and other harms. All reports are strictly confidential - Snapchat will never tell the person being reported who reported them. Snapchat's Trust & Safety Team reviews all reports.What does 🚩 🚩 🚩 mean on Snapchat? ›
What are all those 🚩 (red flag) emojis doing on social media? Also known as the “triangular flag,” the 🚩 (red flag) emoji is the internet slang way of saying “yikes”—especially when it comes to relationships and friendships. We'll dive into the usage of the red flag emoji on TikTok, Twitter, and more.
On social media, the Red Flag emoji 🚩 is popularly used to refer to “red flags” in relationships or potential relationships—signs that someone would not make a good romantic partner or that they generally have a bad personality.What type of people use Snapchat? ›
Snapchat is Most Popular With Younger Generations
In the United States, the most popular age group on Snapchat is those ages 15-25, as they make up 48% of users. Those ages 26-35 make up 30% of users, ages 36-45 are 18%, ages 46-55 are 11%, and those 56 and older make up just 5% of the platform.
How to block Snapchat on Android: Open the Screen Time parental app. Select the child that you want to block Snapchat for, then tap on the Blocked Apps section. Turn on the App blocker by tapping ON.What are the rules for kids on SnapChat? ›
Yes, the minimum age is 13, in compliance with the U.S. Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Snapchat asks for a date of birth upon sign up, and if the birth date indicates that the user is under 13, they're not allowed to create an account.Is SnapChat appropriate for 9 year olds? ›
That means that technically, nine-year-olds shouldn't be using SnapChat at all. There is an alternative app for younger children called SnapKidz, which allows younger users to take photos, draw on them, and create captions, but it doesn't allow the user to send or receive photos.Can you hide SnapChat messages? ›
If you tap “Clear Conversations,” you'll see a list of the users you've snapped with along with an “X” next to their usernames. You can hit the X to hide any conversations. A third option is to "block" the person, which you can do in the same menu where you cleared the conversation.How do kids hide Snapchat on phone? ›
To hide and unhide apps on Android is very easy. Go to App Drawer> Home> Settings> Hide Applications> [choose apps to hide]> Done.Can I hide my Snapchat from everyone? ›
Story privacy settings
Go to your profile and click on the settings icon. Now, click on 'View my Story'. You can select from 'Everyone', 'Friends Only' and 'Custom'.
Private Browsing Mode
There are private browsing modes like InPrivate or Incognito that allow someone to browse without tracking their history. Kids often use this to throw parents off when attempting to reach inappropriate sites.
It is a loophole in the app you can use to view messages. Since Snapchat doesn't label a message as opened until the complete snap is seen, you can slide the app halfway to the end to see the messages. You must be careful to slide it very close to the end but not the end.
With Content & Privacy Restrictions in Screen Time, you can block or limit specific apps and features on your child's device. You can also restrict the settings on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch for explicit content, purchases and downloads, and privacy.Does Snapchat tell you if someone looks at your location? ›
Is There Any Way to Tell If Someone Checked Your Location on Snapchat in 2023? The answer is also No. Snapchat doesn't show who viewed your location. And there is no other ways to tell if someone looked at your location.Does Snapchat tell you if someone screenshots your story? ›
Swipe up on a Snap to get a list of all the individuals who have viewed it. Everyone who has screenshotted your Snap will be displayed in green. Note : This information is only available while the Story is still active, so check it before it expires!How to tell if someone screenshots your Snapchat conversation? ›
Photo and video screenshots will display a screenshot alert, a chat screenshot will produce the words "You took a screenshot!" in your chat, and a story screenshot displays a screenshot icon in the viewers section of a user's story.How do you convince parents to let you get Snapchat? ›
Have good reasons why you want to have Snapchat. Explain to them how it will help you socialize and be included in friend groups. Talk about how you will use it to get closer to friends and make new connections at school.Why should a 12 year old not have Snapchat? ›
If kids are sharing their lives through the app, there is a danger of oversharing with strangers—or potentially receiving unwanted attention. Kids who use Snapchat should be mature enough to verify the contacts they add and handle potential interactions with people they don't know.Should you let your 12 year old have Snapchat? ›
Emphasise and model to your child that getting an app like Snapchat should be done with some consideration, particularly as it is designed for older children, aged 13+. In doing so, you are teaching him to be discerning, which is always a good thing when it comes to digital tech.What is Snapchat actually used for? ›
Snapchat is a multimedia app that can be used on smartphones running Android or iOS. It allows you to send pictures or videos, named "Snaps," to friends. These Snaps vanish after they've been viewed. The platform also offers a Chat function, similar to instant messaging services like WhatsApp.What is the main purpose for Snapchat? ›
Snapchat is an app that empowers people to express themselves, live in the moment, learn about the world, and have fun together.
They teach their children self-discipline by holding them accountable. These parents have their kids' best interests at heart. What is this? But some strict parents are controlling because they fear being seen as incompetent parents if their children make mistakes.
Your parents might be worried about social media becoming a big distraction that takes time away from your family or your schoolwork. They might be worried about cyber-bullying, and that's no joke! Kids deal with serious depression over things like who un-friended them or posted secrets about them for everyone to see.Is Snapchat appropriate for 9 year olds? ›
That means that technically, nine-year-olds shouldn't be using SnapChat at all. There is an alternative app for younger children called SnapKidz, which allows younger users to take photos, draw on them, and create captions, but it doesn't allow the user to send or receive photos.