Our Complete Guide to Snapchat

What are the key features of Snapchat?

What are the key features of Snapchat?

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Snaps

It’s SO easy for teens to take photos and share them with friends. And teens LOVE the filters.

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Snapchats

Text conversations that disappear within 24 hours. Photos too.

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Snapstreaks

Teens strive to keep snap chats going with friends and must respond within 24 hours to keep the streak alive. Those with the longest and the highest number of snapstreaks gain social standing. While fun, this can create a lot of pressure.

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Snapmaps

Friends can share their location and track each other in real time on a map view.

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Discover

News, celebrity activity, and friend’s update plus a whole lot of inappropriate content.

Recommendations

Recommended Time

20 Minutes

In an extensive study, Snapchat users report being happy when spending up to 20 minutes per day on the app, and then shift into unhappy territory when they continue using beyond that point.

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Recommended Age

16+

Because of its mature content and it’s original incarnation as a sexting app, Common Sense Media recommended age is 16+.

What Parents Should Know

Inappropriate Content

The Discover feature is easily accessed and is where users have to go to see Friends’ stories.  Discover also functions as an advertising section where magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Vice, Esquire and Oddly Satisfying post adult content and pay Snapchat to feature them. Users can select which publications they want to see, but they will still see some they do not subscribe to. Unfortunately, the Discover feature cannot be removed. Most concerning is that Snapchat’s Discover shows the same content to a 13-year-old as to a 25-year-old. We tested.

Stranger Danger

In Snapchat, the default settings allow strangers to contact your teen and, your teen will be invited to add people as friends who he or she doesn’t know. You must act to change the settings.

Social Pressure:

Teens can feel social pressure to keep up their Snapstreaks because they don’t want to let a friend down. If they fail to respond within 24 hours, the streak disappears. Also, when groups of friends agree to share their location it can make it easier to make plans, but teens can also feel pressured even when they don’t want to join the group. More than on any other platform, teens are cajoled to share inappropriate photos. While Snapchat has become more mainstream, it was originally founded in 2011 to facilitate sexting.

Disappearing Messages

The ‘impermanent nature’ of Snapchat is unnerving to parents. The major concern is that there’s no way to monitor a teen’s activity, and teens often don’t stop to think about the consequences. Transmitting inappropriate photos could constitute a felony.  While snaps can disappear almost immediately, they are actually stored on Snapchat’s server for 30 days before they’re deleted, and anyone can take a screenshot.

When we tested signing up my 13-year-old daughter, this is what we saw under the Discover feature:

 

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How do I monitor my teen on Snapchat?

No one wants another full-time job, but parents are well-advised to monitor their kids’ social media accounts. The extent to which you do this is totally personal preference and based on your own parenting philosophy. It’s particularly challenging in Snapchat because of the disappearing history. Here’s the best you can do:

1. Create your own account and friend your teen to see his or her Snap Stories

2. Get notified when your teen posts a Snap StoryBe advised that this will turn on notifications for the entire app, but if you only friend your teen, inundation should not be a concern

  • Tap your profile icon in the top-left
  • Tap ⚙️ in the top-right to open Settings
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  • Tap Notifications
  • Tap Manage Story Notifications
  • Tap your child’s name and tap Done
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3. Spot check your teen’s phone and enable the setting to save chat history for 24 hours:

  • Open Snapchat and tap the chat button at the bottom left of your screen
  • Select a conversation from the list of conversations
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  • Tap the hamburger icon at the top left
  • On the chat settings screen, tap the Delete Chats option
  • A menu will open with two options; After Viewing, and 24 hours after viewing. By default, the expiry for all conversations is set to After Viewing. The 24-hour option has to be changed manually
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You will need to know your child’s Snapchat Account username and password.

4. Sign up for a social media monitoring tool such as Bark to be notified of any potential issues.

  • It notifies you if it’s algorithms detect potentially concerning activity
  • Teens feel their privacy is protected because parents only see the activity that has been flagged
  • It monitors all stories but can’t monitoring individual snapchat messages

See Our Complete Guide to Bark found under Our Guides

5.  Friend your teen’s friends (and be stealth about it).

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How do I make sure my teen’s account is private?

By default, only friends your teen has added can make direct contact and view his or her Snapstories but your teen could be invited to friend someone he or she doesn’t know.

To confirm privacy settings:

  • Tap your profile icon in the top-left
  • While in the app, tap the ⚙️button in the Profile screen to open Settings
  • Scroll down to the ‘Who Can…‘ section. Choose an option. Your options include:
    • Who Can Contact Me
    • Who Can View My Story 
    • Who Can See Me in Quick Add
    • Who Can See My Location 
  • Tap the back button to save your choice
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What Are Some Other Tips to Protect My Teen’s Privacy?

1. Block Location Sharing

While it can be fun for kids with their close friends, you still may not want your teen broadcasting his or her location. To alter location sharing settings, select:

Ghost Mode: Your child’s location is not shared with anyone. However, within Ghost Mode, your teen can still see where friends are. 

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2. Prevent Location Requests altogether

  • Tap your profile icon in the top-left
  • While in the app, tap the ⚙️button
  • Scroll down to Who Can See My Location
  • Toggle off  Allow friends to request my location
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What should I do if my child is being bullied or harassed?

1. Block the user

When you block or delete a user that person is unable to view or comment on any of your posts. People aren’t notified when you block them.

To block a friend:

  • Swipe right to go to the Friends screen
  • Tap on a Chat with that friend
  • Tap Snapchat hamburger icon in the top-left
  • Tap Block Friend
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2. Reporting content

If your child receives inappropriate snaps, once to report an explicit story, or if someone’s harassing them, they can go to www.snapchat.com/safety  and follow the steps to report it to Snapchat.

3. How do I  delete my teen’s account?

Open your browser and go to Snapchat.com (you can’t do this within the app).

  • Scroll down and select Support, under the Company section
  • Select Learning the basics
  • Select Account Settings
  • Select Delete an Account

This will permanently delete your teens account including all prior history.

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