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Snapchat explained for parents - King amongst teenagers

What is SnapChat?

Updated May 2021; Snapchat is the king of social media for teenagers and young adults. It’s so quick and easy to get running. Snapchat allows you to take photos and share them between friends, along with a message. 

SnapChat safety - Internet safety for kids
Snapchat is King among teenagers, famed for its secrecy. Is it still so secret in 2021? 

The received picture & message then disappears from the recipient's phone within a matter of seconds. This is Snapchat's most famous feature, the cause of all the trouble and the feature most copied by others like Facebook and Instagram.

Snapchat is the king of the schoolyard. It's the most popular social media platform for the under 24's. If kids or young adults are messing about, they're doing it or arranging it on Snapchat including sexting and bullying.

What’s the beef?

The beef is the disappearing messages and Snapchat's recent history.  A couple of years ago, Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, the founders and owners had to ask users to stop sexting and bullying on the platform, numerous times.  

People were also alarmed that the US Govt (Federal Communications FCC) had to force Snapchat to admit that 'Yes' indeed, they did keep the messages. 

Snapchat like everyone else helps it to ALL the data on your phone, email, contacts, pictures etc. Snap Inc. sells this/your information to partners, which is corporate-speak for anyone willing to pay for it, literally, anyone.

Who is using it?

Tweens and Teenagers love the spontaneity of the app.  They can take a photo and share it with their friends, but with the bonus of the photo not lasting longer than a few seconds.

What are the issues?

Most photos on Snapchat are 'selfies' (picture of yourself) with many being funny, stupid or embarrassing. The fact that the image will disappear after a few seconds, tempts the users into sharing some naked/semi-naked photos of themselves. 

These photographs make people vulnerable. Snapchat records the fact that a screenshot has been taken, but not if someone has photographed it from another device or camera.

An example of misuse is setting up a proxy account (for example in the name of the young teenage girl next door) and posting photos/sexting in her name. Such activity needs to reported to Snap and the Police immediately.

And the Problems?

Experts say the disappearing message feature has long promoted overconfidence in users. Meaning it is now favoured for;

  • Online Bullying
  • Chat exclusion
  • Sexting (From Known and unknown senders)
  • Culture of Proxy Fake names in Profiles

So what can parents do?

Snapchat is a great app, allowing teens to express themselves and share their day's experiences with friends. 

However, as with all Apps and internet use, parents need to remind their kids of the risks and etiquette of using this technology. 

And you can't see what they're doing or saying without their password for access to Snapchat. Good luck getting them to hand over their password. Kids need to understand their responsibility.

snapchat setting, snapchat secrecy, Snapchat profile
The Correct settings for Kids, Tweens.

There are three important guidelines that we think are key to kids safety. Most schools are aware of this and have told the kids all about them. But they are worth reporting and the payoff is your kids will be safe.

Step One Real Name in Profile and a pic. It doesn't have to be a full pic nor a full name, if your kid's name is Eve, then Eve should appear in the Profile. Real accounts tend to behave themselves. Facebook tells us that their research indicates that fake account bullies five times more. 

Step Two - Privacy Settings - View my story - 'My friends only'. There are three options and the correct for your kid 'My friends only'. Don't use the other two settings 'Custom' and 'Everyone'

Step Three - No more than 20 friends allowed. People with hundreds of followers will get bullied at some stage. Facebook research from Instagram, WhatsApp and their flagship Facebook tell that limited friends numbers are vital successfully using social media without hassle.

Finally check regularly, as teenagers can change the settings for a joke. 

Snapchat Settings for Privacy - 'My Friends Only'

Snapchat - internet safety, Snapchat profile safety
Should School be promoting his approach in classrooms? No 10-year-old should have an open profile? 'My Friends Only' 

Location Service - Switch for Snap Maps

Switching this off is vital to preventing your child from appearing on SnapMaps, switch off the microphone to stop Snapchat listening as well.

Snapchat Internet safety - Location Services for Snapmaps
Snap maps is a dangerous feature that most parents are not aware of!


BeSecureOnline - Internet Safety Talks for Kids & Teenagers

Contact us, for more information about our internet safety talks for kids and teenagers.



Check out our article about Online Reputation.

Safety Guidelines – What parents need to know about Snapchat 

Let's talk about Sexting


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