Our Complete Guide to Snapchat

Key Features


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


Text conversations that disappear within 24 hours.  Photos too.*


Teens aspire to keep their conversations going with friends and must respond within 24 hours to keep the streak alive.


Friends can share their location and track each other in real time.


News, celebrity activity, and friend’s updates .


Recommended Time

32 Minutes

Recommended Age


What Parents Should Know

Inappropriate Content

When we tested signing up my 13-year-old daughter, this is what we discovered: show photo of family room with Discover circled  and show collage of disturbing photos in feed. The Discover feature is easily accessed and is where users have to go to see Friend’s stories.  Discover also functions as an advertising section where magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Vice, Esquire add Oddly Satisfying post adult content and pay Snapchat to feature them.  A user can select which publications they want to see, but they will still see some they do not subscribe to, and Discover cannot be removed. Of further concern, is that Snapchat shows what’s shown to a 13-year-old is the same as what’s shown to a 25-year-old.  We tested!

Stranger Danger

In Snapchat, the default settings allow strangers to contact your kids AND your teen will be invited to add people he or she doesn’t know as Friends, unless you change the settings (LINK TO QUESTION: HOW CAN I MAKE MY CHILD”S ACCOUNT PRIVATE).  ADD Screenshot with caption:  My daughter knows none of these people!

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 to join the group.  More than on any other platform, teens are coerced to share inappropriate photos. Some might say, once a sexting app, always a sexting app. Snapchat was founded in 2011 to facilitate sexting, but has become more mainstream. 

Disappearing Messages

The ‘impermanent nature’ 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. While snaps can disappear almost immediately, they are actually stored on SnapChat’s server for 30 days before they’re deleted. Also, anyone can take a screenshot and now settings can be changed to save snaps for 24 hours. 

Knowledge object: camera with slash: Hover would say: A teen who takes a naked picture of him/herself and sends it to another teen, has technically committed 3 felony crimes. Hyperlink hover statement: http://mobilemediaguard.com/state_main.html

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:

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.

  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 Story.  Be advised that this will turn on notifications for the entire app, but if you only friend your teens, inundation should not be a concern.  
  3. Know your child’s Snapchat Account username and password. 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.
    • 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.

Add Protip Icon: Knowing your teen’s phone password or installing your thumbprint in Touch ID is always helpful. 

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

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

It’s not uncommon for kids to share inappropriate content. Instead of hoping and wishing they wouldn’t, parents can set clear expectations through a family media contract.  Add Family Media Contract ICon and LINK TO FAMILY Media contract Teens.


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.

To confirm privacy settings:

  1. While in the  app, tap the ⚙️button in the Profile screen to open Settings
  2. Scroll down to the ‘Who Can…‘ section. Choose an option. Your options include:
  • Who Can Contact Me
  • Who Can View My Story – Tap My Friends, Everyone, or Custom
  • Who Can See Me in Quick Add
  • Who Can See My Location 

3. Tap the back button to save your choice.

What Are Some Other Tips to Protect My Teen’s Privacy?

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

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

My Friends: Anyone who is a friend of your child can see his or her location.

Only These Friends: Your child can choose who can see his or her location.  

To prevent Location Requests altogether…

  1. While in the app, tap the ⚙️button
  2. Scroll down to ‘Who Can See My Location
  3. Toggle off ‘Allow friends to request my location’

What Should I do if my child is being bullied or harassed?
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.

  1. Delete or 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.

2. Reporting content

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

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.


3. How Do I  Delete My Teen’s Account?

If you’d like to remove your child’s account permanently,

Open your browser and go to Snapchat.com.

  1. Scroll down and select “Support”, under the “Company” section.
  2. Select “Learning the basics”.
  3. Select “Account Settings”.
  4. Select “Delete an Account”.

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, prohibits social media sites from collecting personal data from children under 13 without parental consent. Instead of fulfilling the onerous requirements to obtain parental consent, social media companies elected to set 13 as the minimum age to use their platforms.

While it’s not illegal for children under 13 to use social media, there are the privacy and appropriate use concerns to consider. According to child psychologists, children under 13 are typically not developmentally ready to handle the complexities that arise with social media from posting etiquette and oversharing, to analyzing truth and validity.

A child’s readiness depends on his or her level of maturity and how prepared he or she is to handle the responsibility. Parents are well-advised to educate themselves and their children on the potential issues and be prepared to regularly engage with their children to discuss social media use.

See our Best Practices for Managing Social Media


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