Through the years, adults have now become the primary users on Facebook leaving teens to turn to another platform – Snapchat! Snapchat is now one of the most popular video, message and photo sharing applications for teens with over 400 million snaps being shared each day. What makes this application so exciting is the belief that the pictures and messages sent can be viewed for no more than 10 seconds.
Overview of Snapchat
- Under Snapchat’s terms and conditions, children must be at least 13 years old to play;
- It provides multiple ways of communication to stay connected with others;
- Using Snapchat is usually quicker and easier than texting;
- More private than if posted to Facebook or Instagram;
- You can share memories, snaps, photos, stories and also chat. Snapchat’s entire platform is about creating an App that allows people to post silly/embarrassing pictures that can be quickly erased after being viewed;
- Offers fun, easy to use editing tools to enhance photos;
- Two major features are : Disappearing text (after 1 to 10 seconds), and custom message capabilities;
- The only people who can view the pictures or videos in this app are the people the user has selected.
If a child is younger than 13 years old, they will automatically be redirected to SnapKidz. This application allows children to take pictures of themselves with the filters but does not allow them to add friends or share pictures. However, it is very easy to lie about one’s date of birth, therefore, it is recommended that parents always supervise their children when creating any new account on an application.
Safely Managing SnapChat:
- Keep your password safe;
- Make sure your child is managing their privacy settings safely. Snapchat has made the settings quite easy to understand;
- Keep everything legal that you post;
- Do not invade other people’s privacy and get consent before posting;
- Don’t post pictures, videos or stories of other people that you would not like to see about yourself;
- Go to your app store and download Snapchat;
- On the Welcome screen, tap ‘SIGN UP’;
- Enter your birthday;
- Enter your username (your identity on Snapchat): Make it something unique to you! You cannot change your username once you have set it. If you choose to delete your account, your username will no longer be available.
- Set a secure Password: Try to avoid using your name, username, mobile number, birthday or any other personal information in your new password. It’s best to include a mix of numbers, symbols, and/or capitals and lowercase letters in your password.
- Enter a valid ‘Email Address’: It’s important to have a valid email address associated with your account. If you forget your password, your email address can be used to reset it.
- The next step will prove you’re not a robot. Once you’ve completed this step it’s time to add your friends and get ready to start snapping!
The Downsides to Snapchat
- May send the wrong message to teens – many think they can get away with anything while using Snapchat;
- Can be addictive and distracting;
- Can cause the social exclusion of friends;
- Because Snapchat photos self-destruct automatically, a big trend has emerged: Sexting via Snapchat. Teens are basically taking provocative photos of themselves and sending to their friends/boyfriends/girlfriends. They feel more liberal about doing it because they know that those photos get deleted after a few seconds. Unfortunately, this is not the case! Your contacts are able to screenshot the pictures received, and save them on their phones PERMANENTLY. The creators of Snapchat did anticipate this, and created a notice that senders receive once their pictures have been screenshot. Teenagers must always be vigilant regarding what they send and share. Once the photo is sent, it is out of their control.
- There have also been isolated cases of misuse such as cyberbullying and sextortion. Snapchat has a zero tolerance for harassment and cyberbullying. If your child is the victim of harassment or cyberbullying, it is possible to block the user by holding on the username, pressing edit, and then press block. You may also report the user by sending an email directly to email@example.com If the harassment persists, or if you feel your child is not ready for SnapChat, you can always delete the account at https://support.snapchat.com/en-US
Hundreds of apps are being created every day, and as parents it can be challenging to stay on top of everything your child downloads. Problems can and do occur on any social media app. This is why we strongly suggest that you keep the lines of communication open with your child, and to speak with him about his online activities the way you would regarding any of his other activities. For further information or concerns that you may have you can visit https://support.snapchat.com/en-US