Is Snapchat safe? Online safety guide for parents

Is Snapchat safe? Online safety guide for parents

June 25, 2023 privacy 0
Find out everything a parent should know about Snapchat: what it is, how it works, how it could be dangerous for your kid, and most importantly, what you can do to keep them safe.

Contents What is Snapchat? How does Snapchat work? What’s a Snap Map? What is a Snapstreak? Is Snapchat safe for kids to use? Is Snapchat safe for sending private photos? Kids using Snapchat: What are the risks? Help your kids use Snapchat safely
What is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a popular social media/messaging app targeted primarily at young smartphone users. The main difference between Snapchat and other social media platforms is the short-lived nature of the content created on it. All the messages users send each other disappear after they are viewed. The app is also well known for its fun and enticing filters, allowing users to experiment and adapt their content to the latest trends.

How does Snapchat work?

“Snaps” are at the core of Snapchat — that’s what all the photos and short videos on the platform are called. Users can add short captions and send them to their friends or add them to their Story (a compilation of Snaps visible to the users’ friends for 24 hours). Users can also save Snaps in their Memories section. When it comes to direct chat, Snaps are meant to imitate face-to-face conversations, disappearing immediately after they are viewed. However, users can now remove time limits for their photos and videos, allowing other participants to save them in the chat. Snapchat also has a “Discover” section, where users can explore content from various publishers and creators as well as ads from brands, including sponsored stories and promoted content, which may not always be age appropriate.

What’s a Snap Map?

A Snap Map is an interactive map that allows users to share their location with friends. It is represented on a world map by a Bitmoji (a personal emoji). Users can also use the Snap Map to view public stories from around the world, allowing them to explore and engage with new content and creators. Location sharing is optional — users can toggle to Ghost Mode whenever they want.

What is a Snapstreak?

A Snapstreak is a popular feature that is initiated when users exchange Snaps for two consecutive days. After that, the app keeps track of the streak, which disappears if no Snaps are exchanged for 24 hours. Many users find Snapstreaks addicting because it brings a competitive aspect to the app, so parents should keep an eye out for obsessive behaviors.

Is Snapchat safe for kids to use?

As with most social media platforms, Snapchat’s safety largely depends on how it is used. While the developers have taken measures to ensure user safety, parents and users should be aware of several aspects of the app. Snapchat is intended for users who are over 13, but there’s nothing stopping younger children from creating an account. The content they can access on Snapchat is often harmless, but it is unfiltered, and some interactions could encourage inappropriate behavior, like sexting or cyberbullying. If you’re concerned about your kids’ safety on Snapchat, you should be especially wary of the Snap Map feature. Although it’s fun for kids to see where their friends are and get more context for the Snaps they send, continuous location sharing is a huge risk for their online and offline security. It could lead to stalking, harassment, bullying, and physical threats. What about encryption? Snapchat does offer end-to-end encryption — to a point. It only extends to Snaps — photos and videos that are shared — while the text messages and interactions in chats are not covered by the end-to-end encryption.

Is Snapchat safe for sending private photos?

Snapchat’s main premise is that all pictures and videos disappear after viewing. However, nothing we share online ever truly disappears. Anyone can take a screenshot of a Snap, and many third-party apps can save and download Snaps. While some messaging apps, like WhatsApp, prevent users from taking screenshots, someone could also simply take a photo with another device, and then the one-time message becomes permanent. So users should always make sure they’re OK with the content they’re sharing ending up online for everyone to see.

Kids using Snapchat: What are the risks?

Privacy concerns. Snapchat’s disappearing messages make it difficult to monitor who your kids are talking to and what information they are sharing about themselves. Furthermore, Snapchat can lead to kids sharing things more impulsively, believing there will be no record left, which is often not the case. Cyberbullying. Snapchat users may be difficult to track down. This, paired with disappearing content, makes it bullies’ favorite online platform. A child could be bombarded with Snaps meant to mock, harass, and intimidate them, and if they don’t know how to adjust their privacy settings, they won’t be able to defend themselves. Exposure to inappropriate content. Unfiltered and unmanaged content on Snapchat is widely available to all users. Your kids could stumble upon it accidentally, look it up themselves, or have someone else send explicit images and videos to them. Pressure to share. Snapchat can create pressure to constantly share Snaps, participate in challenges, or maintain Snapstreaks. This conduct can lead to oversharing of personal information or to unhealthy online behavior and addiction. Stranger danger. If privacy settings are not properly configured, strangers can send Snaps or messages to your child, enticing them to overshare about themselves. Additionally, the platform’s location-sharing feature makes it easier for predators to track down and target children. {SHORTCODES.blogRelatedArticles}

Help your kids use Snapchat safely

Here’s a short Snapchat parent guide you can follow to help make your kids’ online life safer: Maintain honest communication. You should make sure your child understands the responsibilities that come with using Snapchat. It’s crucial to maintain an open conversation about their online safety, personal boundaries, and appropriate online behavior. They should know how to handle uncomfortable situations or when to ask for help. Adjust privacy settings. Help your child set up their Snapchat account and ensure that the privacy settings are properly configured. Enable Ghost Mode to hide their location from others on the Snap Map, and make sure only their friends are able to send Snaps and view your kid’s Story. Monitor their friend list. From time to time, go over your kid’s friends list with them to ensure only their actual friends are on it. You can also consider using parental control apps for an additional layer of security. Teach them to report and block. Teach your kids how to report content or block a user and when it is appropriate to do so. Talk about sensitive content. Remind your kids that even though Snaps are designed to disappear, they can be screenshotted or recorded. Stress the potential permanence of “temporary” digital content and encourage your kids to act responsibly. Look out for signs of addiction. Snapstreaks can lead to compulsive tendencies, so if you notice signs of addictive behavior, help your kids find the balance between online and offline activities. Know when it’s time to quit. If you notice Snapchat brings more frustration than enjoyment, encourage them to consider deleting their Snapchat account.


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