My child wants a Snapchat account. What’s your opinion, and what do I need to know?
What Do I Need to Know About Snapchat?
We have yet to hear one parent who is excited about Snapchat for their teens. Here are some comments from a Facebook Group:
Parent #1: Snapchat is way worse (than Instagram). My son has both and I wish I never got him SC. You can’t see their messages, posts, or friends stuff bc they disappear. Also, my son doesn’t use his texts anymore. He just chats in SC so I can’t see. ALL of his friends do the same thing.
Parent #2: If I could go back and not approve Snapchat…I would. Taking it away is harder than standing your ground and not giving it. Snapchat is secret and the addiction is crazy.
When it comes to Snapchat, it’s like the dominoes falling. If a critical mass within a peer group starts using it, it can feel really hard to say no when kids are over 13. Kids and parents alike are concerned about being left out of the social flow.
While most parents know about the disappearing message feature and that Snapchat originated as a sexting app, they’re less familiar with what makes Snapchat so addictive. Snapstreaks are the barometer for social status–the number of streaks you have ongoing with friends and their duration can boost your social standing. To maintain a streak, you have to respond to your friend within 24 hours; otherwise, the streak ends.
Also, Snapchat promotes some really questionable content in the Discover feature, and there’s no way to block it. We tested, and Snapchat will show the same content to a 13-year-old as it does to a 25-year-old.
If you feel it’s time for your child to have more ownership over his or her digital life and more leeway in making decisions, then here are some recommendations:
Use Our Family Agreement to set expectations and guidelines for usage, particularly around what’s appropriate for posting and sharing.
1. Know that studies acknowledge that social media use can increase happiness up to a point and the recommendation is to limit use to 1-2 platforms and ~ 30 minutes on each platform (see Social Media: What’s the Recommended Amount of Time).
2. Consider setting time limits (see Our Complete Guide to iOS 12 for instructions) and using Screen Time to monitor your child’s usage.
3. Use Our Complete Guide to Snapchat for privacy tips and how to change the settings so snaps don’t disappear (it’s possible to increase the time frame to 24 hours)
4. To understand the nuances of Snapchat, we recommend reading: “Teens Explain Snapchat’s Addictive Streaks–Where Friendships Live and Die.
5. Check-in frequently with your teen to see how it’s going.