Is Snapchat safe for kids? Let’s start with the basics of how it works
We know that kids want to use Snapchat – it can be fun! But is it safe? Here’s what parents need to know.
When your kids get older and start to have access to the internet and apps through their own devices, it becomes more important than ever to be mindful of what apps they’re using and how they’re being used. We’re not talking about checking in on what YouTube videos they happen to be obsessed with right now, although we definitely still keep tabs on those!
At some point, your tweens and teens are going to want to branch out into social media, with their own accounts if you allow it. And we get it! Social media these days is very appealing and can be a lot of fun. We’re nowhere near the target demographic for TikTok, but you wouldn’t believe how much time we can waste scrolling through those videos.
When you open up that can of worms, particularly with your kids, it’s so important to understand the apps they’ll be using and whether or not they’re safe. Snapchat is a super popular app, particularly among young folks, because of the filters and short shelf life of shared content. However, before you give into your kids’ request to download the app, do your due diligence to find out if it’s safe, and what precautions you and your kids should take while using it.
Snapchat is another in a long line of messaging apps. But what’s made it so popular is also what sets it apart from other apps. Unlike Instagram or TikTok, you don’t have a personal feed of all the pics, videos, and content you’ve shared, because everything you share on Snapchat is time-limited, meaning it disappears after it’s been viewed.
So you can take a cute selfie, throw a funny filter on it, send it to a friend, and after they open it, that snap is gone. Kids are drawn to the cool filters for pictures and videos. And yes, the now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t aspect is very appealing as well, considering how short many kids’ attentions spans are. Plus, they may feel like Snapchat offers them more security because nothing actually stays on the app or in people’s feeds. Even screenshots are harder with Snapchat; if you screenshot a snap, the app notifies the sender.
In addition to the photo and video sharing capability, there is also a chat function on Snapchat, so followers can message each other. Those are also time-sensitive and auto-delete from user accounts after messages and have opened and both users have left the chat. Users can set them to delete sooner, 24 hours after they’re sent.
What should parents be concerned about with Snapchat?
Many parents agree to allow their kids to have smartphones and use social media apps only with the agreement that the parents have access to everything they do and share through regular monitoring. The problem with apps like Snapchat is that there’s nothing to monitor or review since it all disappears.
So even if you monitor your kid’s phone on a regular basis or use a third party app to track their activity, you won’t be able to see what your kid is sending or receiving. Your child could be sending or receiving inappropriate pictures or videos or be bullied through messages and harmful content, and you wouldn’t know unless they told you.
Secondly, while one of the appealing parts of Snapchat is that users are notified if a snap is screenshot, it doesn’t mean it can’t happen. So if your kid is sending inappropriate pictures, videos, or messages, they still CAN be screenshot and shared outside of the app. The receiver could not care that the sender is notified, or they can use a another phone or camera to take a picture of the incoming message.
There are a couple of other things to consider, as well. Like any social media app, Snapchat has a discovery page which features content from different users (not just people you follow). This content can be explicit in nature, including inappropriate language and sexual content. Also, there’s something called a Snap Map, which uses location-sharing to show users where their friends are on a map in the app.
Take precautions if you let your kids use Snapchat.
Snapchat is one of those apps that can’t be monitored very well, so if that’s a concern or a deal breaker, we would recommend holding off on letting your kids have an account. The minimum age to sign up is 13, and Snapchat actually does filter content based on age, but there’s no verification process to prevent users from lying about their age.
If you do let your kids get Snapchat, instead of focusing on the content they view and share, zero in on their privacy settings. You can control who sees their snaps and stories, and you can also disable location-sharing so they don’t show up on the Snap Map. And definitely have a lot of conversations with your kids about what is appropriate to share, view, and talk about on an app like this.
Because they provide a source of comfort, it is not surprising that some kids drink from bottles at the age of three.
Jayme is a single mom of two little girls in Southern California. Because being a single, work-from-home mom isn’t stressful enough, she also has two dogs (but only one of them is crazy!). Jayme has been writing professionally for just over two years, and while she covers a lot of topics, her wheelhouse is parenting and trending news, both of which provide a wealth of material on a daily basis. She speaks her mind, cusses too much, and always sticks up for what she believes in. Her opinions are always her own, but let’s be honest, they’re usually always right. You can find more of her work on Mommyish, Care, and Mommy Nearest.