Navigating Snapchat (2022): What Parents, Educators, & Students Need to Know

, you're logged in!
April 27, 2022

Become a member or log in to view this course

Superintendents, Directors and Principals: Request a partnership on this page to unlock our resources for your whole community.

Navigating Snapchat (A Course for Students & Parents) preview

What are the top dangers of Snapchat for teens?

  • Predators - easy connections to strangers & Snapmap dangers
  • Screen time addiction - gamification of staying on the app with Snapstreaks
  • Bullying - easily spreads at school with no way to prove who is involved with “disappearing” messages
  • Access to drugs - rampant on the app
  • Mental health - creates unrealistic image expectations with selfie filters & editing

Login or join the VIP membership today to learn about these dangers and how parents, students, and educators can work together to make Snapchat safe and fun.

Become a member or log in to view this course

Superintendents, Directors and Principals: Request a partnership on this page to unlock our resources for your whole community.

Quotation marks

This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!

StarStarStarStarStar

Sharon M.

Parent VIP Member

Quotation marks

Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.

StarStarStarStarStar

Director of College Advising

Educator Webinar Attendee

Quotation marks

This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.

StarStarStarStarStar

Irene C.

Educator Webinar Attendee

This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Green Zone.
This app is not safe for students to use unsupervised, but a Green Zone app can serve a positive purpose to help a student to navigate social media and someday build an online brand. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Green Zone.

This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Gray Zone.
Gray Zone apps often contain lots of private & disappearing messages, and strangers can use this to chat with students. Parents should participate in these apps with students to keep them safe. This zone can be a great place for family time since many of these apps can be entertaining, and let your students express themselves. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Gray Zone.

This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Red Zone.
Red Zone apps often have lots of anonymous features, adult content, and easy contact with strangers. Supervision is strongly suggested on each of these apps or move your kids to a safer zone. All apps require parental supervision, these apps more than others. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Red Zone or view our list of 100+ Apps to find a safer app with your student.
Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ app reviews at SmartSocial.com

This trend is categorized as a Dangerous Social Media Challenge.
Viral challenges encourage students to do dangerous things to garner likes, views, attention, and subscribers. These challenges can be found across several social networks and may encourage students to perform dangerous activities. SmartSocial.com keeps parents updated on these social media challenges before an incident may occur in your community.

Table of Contents

snapchat logo

It’s wildly popular and potentially dangerous. Snapchat is now among the top most used apps for teens.

The photo and video messaging app can be a ton of fun for friends, but it also has the potential to be extremely risky.

Quick tips video for parents & students on Snapchat

What we're covering in this video:

(Click on a blue dot in video progress bar to skip to a chapter)

  1. Tips to avoid predators on Snapchat
  2. Tips to have fun and stay safe
  3. Tips for students & parents to work together
  4. Tips for parents

The top dangers of Snapchat for teens/tweens

  • Predators - easy connections to strangers & Snapmap dangers
  • Screen time addiction - gamification of staying on the app with Snapstreaks
  • Bullying - easily spreads at school with no way to prove who is involved with “disappearing” messages
  • Access to drugs - rampant on the app
  • Mental health - creates unrealistic image expectations with selfie filters & editing

Parent, student, & educator training video

(This video can be shown in the classroom)

What we're covering in this video:

(Click on a blue dot in video progress bar to skip to a chapter)

  1. Danger 1: Predators & Snapmap
  2. How to turn off Snapmap
  3. Tips to avoid predators
  4. Danger 2: Bullying
  5. How to report a safety concern on Snapchat
  6. Danger 3: Screen time addiction
  7. Set Snapchat's notifications
  8. Tips to have fun and be safe on Snapchat

How to turn off Snapmap

Snapmap example

When Snapmap is activated, others can see your real-time location every time you check the app 

1: Tap on the map in lower left corner

2: Tap the gear in the top right corner

3: Toggle Ghost Mode on

4: Tap “Until Turned Off”

If you must keep it on, make sure to only share with 2-3 close friends

Tips to avoiding predators on Snapchat

  • Remind your friends to NEVER send nude photos-once you send a photo you no longer have control of how many times it can be forwarded (even if that person says they won’t share it)
  • Only chat with people who you personally know (from school, clubs, etc.)-follow your friends on more than 1 network in case their account gets hacked. We’ll show you how to add known friends and remove strangers later
  • Anything you share on Snapchat could be used against you.

What students think of Snapchat video

Parent & educator training video

What we're covering in this video:

(Click on a blue dot in video progress bar to skip to a chapter)

  1. What is Snapchat?
  2. Danger 4: Access to drugs
  3. Tips to talk about drugs with your students
  4. Danger 5: Mental health
  5. Snapchat settings walk through
  6. Hiding something? My Eyes Only
  7. What can parents do?
  8. Notice when things are "off"
  9. Tell us what you think!

The Psychology of Snapchat Live Event Recording

What we're covering in this video:

(Click on a blue dot in video progress bar to skip to a chapter)

  1. What students think of Snapchat
  2. Why do students want to be on Snapchat?
  3. FOMO is a natural behavior/thought
  4. Is it fun to have fun and stay safe on Snapchat?
  5. How Snapchat works and how to make it safer
  6. How parents can talk to kids about the dangers?
  7. Not all filters are bad
  8. "I don't have time for Snapchat"
  9. What should the time limit be on Snapchat?
  10. Parental monitoring-not just the software
  11. Don't lose sight of the positive

Top Snapchat safety tips for parents

  • Take an interest in why your students enjoy Snapchat
  • If you haven’t already, watch our student & parent video together to help start the process of working together
  • Start dialogues about predators and drugs online
  • Listen to your gut-if your kids seem “off,” don’t wait to get help!

How should parents start learning about Snapchat?

  • Try it out for yourself-ask your student to teach you how to create an account, a bitmoji, and how to send them a Snap!
  • As a family talk about who or what your students like to see in Snapchat and who they are “Snapping” with
  • View your student’s history

What is Snapchat?

  • Snapchat is a popular photo, video, audio, and live messaging app
  • The app is popular because of the private messaging feature that allows users to send private video, audio, or photos to one another that “disappear” after being viewed
  • Posts made on the app are called “Snaps.” Snaps can be sent to a user’s Story, to their friends in one-on-one chats, or to group chats
  • Snapchat is known for its filters which create effects over photos or videos. The most popular filters change the user’s appearance 
  • The app is made up of these features: Map, Chat, Camera, Stories, and Spotlight

Who is Snapchat for and where is it based?

  • Snapchat says no one under 13 is allowed to create an account

Why should parents & educators care?

  • The app is very popular with students
  • Snapchat is highly addictive, especially with the Snapstreaks feature that encourages users to Snap with their friends often 
  • There are many reports of predators using Snapchat (and the Snapmap feature) to target and solicit minors in person, in real-time
  • Due to Snapchat saying that Snaps are temporary, many teens might post riskier content on Snapchat than on other social networks
  • Content in the Discover feed can be inappropriate for tweens and teens

What can parents & educators do?

  • Before giving your child access to an app, download it, spend some time using it, then determine if the app is safe for your family
  • Walkthrough the app settings with your student to help them understand safety issues and long-term consequences of who sees what they are sharing
  • Have regular discussions with your children about what they are seeing and who they are interacting with on Snapchat
  • Remind your children that their online activity (even Snapchat posts that will disappear) can impact their reputation
  • Ensure your students that they can always talk with a trusted adult (like you, a teacher or a school counselor) if they see something on Snapchat that makes them feel uncomfortable

Start an open and honest dialogue. Here are some dialogue question starters from parents who work at Snapchat:

  • Can I see what your Bitmoji looks like?
  • Do you want to create a family private Story or Group Chat for us?
  • What filter do you use the most?
  • Which Discover show is your favorite? Which ones will I like?
  • Who is your longest Snapstreak?
  • Where does a Snap go when I save it?
  • Read more from Snapchat here 

More Snapchat tips

How to have fun and stay safe on Snapchat

Snapchat Example
  • Don’t talk to strangers - only accept friend requests when you are positive you know the person
  • NEVER send nude pictures - images never truly disappear!
  • Report bullying when you see it to help stop it
  • Be aware of how much time you actually use Snapchat, regardless if it’s a game, messaging friends, or scrolling through Stories
  • When you see someone else’s photo, remember that they probably used a filter to make them look that way 
  • Set Snapchat time limits together - consider when to keep it off completely and set your Apple or Digital Wellbeing controls together
  • Snap or play games together as a family!
  • Share with your parents what you like/don’t like about Snapchat – keep a 2 way discussion going
  • Know who are your trusted adults to talk to if you feel uncomfortable from what you have seen on Snapchat

Branding your Snapchat profile

Snapchat chat example
  • Create a username that you are proud of others seeing
  • Build a bitmoji to complete your profile
  • Never assume a photo or video completely disappears when you post it on social media
  • Tell your story with your snaps
  • Highlight your hobbies
  • Share family moments
  • Teach something new
  • Share something funny
  • Review your list of friends and consider removing anyone you don’t know in real life
  • Only follow people who are positive

New Friends on Snapchat

Our recommendation is to approve only people you know in real life

1: Tap Chat in the bottom of Snapchat 

2: Tap on the + symbol next to the silhouette

3: Accept requests or Add friends from contacts (tap the x to hide that user)

How to remove friends on Snapchat

1: Tap on your bitmoji/headshot in the upper left

2: Review your list of friends and click on a friend you want to unfollow

3: Click on their bitmoji

4: Tap on the 3 dots in the top right

5: Remove them as a friend, block them, or make any other adjustments you need

Consider using Two-Factor Authentication

Two-Factor Authentication will help slow down hackers who want to try to access your Snapchat account without your permission

1: Under Settings, tap “Two-Factor Authentication”

2: Set up login codes to be sent via SMS OR download an app like Duo to create these codes

Note: Don’t share your password with anyone other than your parents

Snapchat permissions on your device

  • Snapchat requests permission to use your microphone, camera, access to your contacts, and more
  • Be aware of all of the access you are giving Snapchat and work with your parents to decide what is safe
  • If possible, don’t upload all your contacts, as they will use that to market to your friends (and you can never get them back)

What is cyberbullying?

According to stopbullying.gov:

  • Cyberbullying includes a repeated action of sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else 
  • It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation 
  • Some cyberbullying crosses the line into unlawful or criminal behavior

Know how to Report a Safety Concern on Snapchat

Note: Always know that you can go to a trusted parent/adult if you see something bad online

1: In Settings, scroll to SUPPORT

2: Tap on “I Have a Safety Concern” if anything makes you uncomfortable

Other ways to Report a Safety Concern

Reporting on Snapchat
  • Remind your school/staff they can work with students to report fake/bullying accounts
  • Report a Story: press and hold the offending Snap until a white flag to report Snap button appears.  Tap it to report the story
  • Report a Snap someone sent you: press and hold the Snap until the report Snap button appears. Tap it to report the Snap
  • Report a Snapchat account: press the Snapchatter’s bitmoji, tap on the three dots, manage friendship, tap ‘Report’ to report the account
  • To hide something on Discover: press and hold a tile on the Discover screen, then tap ‘Hide this content’

Should you Block or unfriend a bully?

  • There is a difference on Snapchat of what other users can see based on if you Block them or unfriend them
  • Blocking another user makes it so they cannot see your publicly shared content
  • Unfriending a user means they can still see what you share publicly 

How to Block another user 

Note: If you or your friend have been bullied by another user, save a photo of those messages BEFORE blocking the user

Tap on the user’s bitmoji

1: Tap the 3 dots in the top right

2: Tap “Block” in the menu 

3: Tap “Block” to confirm

How to find and set Privacy Controls in Snapchat

Privacy settings

1: Open Snapchat, tap on your headshot/bitmoji in the top left, then tap on the gear in the top right

2: In Settings, scroll to “PRIVACY CONTROLS…”

3: Consider changing “Everyone” to “My Friends” for Contact Me and View My Story

4: “See My Location” is another way to activate Ghost Mode for Snapmap

5: Tap on “See Me in Quick Add” to turn the feature off, so random people can’t follow you

What to do if your friends are being bullied online

  • Report it on the app AND to your trusted adults
  • Try to save the bullying message (screenshot it or take a picture with another device) to show the trusted adult

Myth: Snaps disappear!

  • While a Snap may no longer show in your app after everyone has seen it (or it expired from your story), others may have screenshot it and shared the photo/video
  • You do get a notice when someone uses their device’s screenshot to save your Snap, but you don’t know if someone has another device or camera and has taken a picture to share with others off Snapchat!
  • Also, what we put out there could hurt some of our closest friends if it is about them (or they weren’t invited to an event)

Why is Snapchat addictive?

  • Apps make money when they can show their advertisers they have users who open the app and engage with the app every single day, multiple times a day to check content
  • This is why they invented Snapstreaks - to keep us engaged and make us feel like we have to open the app to keep our streak 
  • Snapstreaks are an artificial way of showing friendship. If you are stressed, it’s ok to let your “Snapstreaks” end and spend that time elsewhere

Tips to avoid Snapchat addiction

  • Set daily time limits for yourself
Snapstreak example
  • Establish “no-Snapchat time” blocks for yourself (like 10 pm-7 am)
  • How much time do you really spend on Snapchat?
  • Review screen time reports on your device to get a real check
  • Use Apple or Android settings to monitor/block the app for your limit
  • Find others who are on Snapchat often to help keep you accountable for your goals--Tell your friends what your goals are so they know!

Set up which notifications you want to receive

Snapchat WILL be distracting! Default notifications will be sent regularly and often

1:  Under Settings, tap “Notifications”

2: Tap “Enable Notifications” to go to your phone’s settings for Notifications  

3: Consider disabling all notifications in your phone’s settings so you are in control of your Snapchat time

Types of Snapchat Stories

  • Instead of a private message, a story allows teens to share a photo/video publicly for friends to see
  • Each story is visible only for 24 hours
Snapchat stories example

1: Friends: Friends stories can be set to private and only visible to other friends

2: Subscriptions: Stories from groups the user has subscribed to

3: Discover: Stories from brands or sponsored ads and often shows inappropriate content

Settings for sharing Snapchat Stories

1: Next to "Add to My Story," tap on the three dots to see story settings

2: Tap "Story Settings"

3: Consider allowing only friends to see your story content

Why might Snap Games be dangerous?

  • Games can be fun, especially if you can play with or compete against your friends/family
  • However, games make us more addicted to being on the app and competing for the best score
  • Be cautious about what data you allow the games to see (again, don’t allow Snapchat to see the contacts on your phone)
  • Think about who you are playing with…remember a stranger who says they are your age might be much older and they can try to build a friendship to learn private information about you

What do students think of Snapchat?

  • All of the info disappears 
  • The images and videos can’t be downloaded by their friends 
  • It’s harmless to send silly photos and fun to use the filters to create images
  • Other apps can’t access Snapchat data
  • Parents aren’t on Snapchat
Tips from Snapchat safety

How Snapchat contributes to negative mental health

  • Encourages addiction to technology
  • Features promote FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
  • Students are comparing themselves to images created with augmentation (aka filters) that are not realistic in real life

How to help combat student mental health problems

Encourage students to be involved in other activities:

  • Sports or exercise
  • Reading books or printed media
  • In-person social interactions
  • Clubs, tutoring, or religious activities
  • Connect with mental health experts: 
  • School counselors
  • Pediatricians
  • Psychologists & therapists

Tips to talk to kids about drugs

5 conversation goals from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

  1. Show you disapprove of underage drinking and other drug misuse
  2. Show you care about your teen's health, wellness, and success
  3. Show you're a good source of information about alcohol and other drugs
  4. Show you're paying attention and you will discourage risky behaviors
  5. Build your teen's skills and strategies for avoiding drinking and drug use

Are your students hiding something?

My Eyes Only
  • “My Eyes Only” in Snapchat allows users to move Snaps and Stories so only the user can save them and see them with a passcode
  • Talk to your student about what they would want to save in “My Eyes Only” 
  • Remind students that there are easy ways to “hack” a passcode, so nothing is ever completely private online!

How to check for “My Eyes Only”

From the Snapchat camera screen on your student’s device:

1: Swipe up from the middle of the screen

2: From the Memories screen, swipe left to get to the “My Eyes Only” tab

Recommend a Snapchat friend checkup

“This feature could help make the platform safer for users, if they choose to use it. It could be a good way to help you realize you might still have somebody friended that you don’t want to see your posts. And I know there’ve been plenty of times when I’ve looked at a friend or follower of mine and said ‘I have no idea who this person is...’

The Verge

Notice when things are “off”

You know your kids the best. If you start to notice any of these concerns, increase the frequency that you talk with them and maybe seek professional help:

  • Increased anxiety, fear, or anger
  • Students avoid conversations (more than normal) about social media
  • They avoid using their devices they normally love
  • They withdraw from in-person friends or activities
  • Changes in school behavior

Are your students struggling to understand the dangers?

  • Don’t give up! They may not be ready to talk the first time you bring it up!
  • Remind them who their trusted adults are so they can talk to you/them if they need help
  • Have them watch our Student video showing real-life examples of Snapchat dangers

Student training video

What we're covering in this video:

(Click on a blue dot in video progress bar to skip to a chapter)

  1. Bodily injury
  2. Not who they say they are
  3. Predators looking for teens/tweens
  4. They want your photos
  5. Blackmail & account take overs
  6. Cyber bullying

Examples of Snapchat dangers from the news

The Denver Post headline: Cherry Creek High student who died by suicie was threatened, encouraged to kill himself by "bullies," mother alleges. Police are investigating "any allegations of bullying related" to Jack Padilla's suicide, district officials say
[The] student's mother said] she found out about the bullying, some of which happened through messages over the Snapchat social-media platform. Denver Post
AZ Family.com headline: "Joke" on Snapchat results in arrest of 15-year-old student in Buckeye
'This kind of a joke, which is not funny, can have tremendous implications for his education as well as legally,’ said Buckeye Police Department Public Information Officer Donna Rossi. ‘He is looking at possible misdemeanor charges. There are cases where this can be a felony.'

Buckeye, AZ

WCNC headline: suspects use Snapchat to threaten teen girl at school to send pictures of herself
Police say the suspects contacted the 14-year-old victim on Snapchat implying they had photos of her and would release them if she didn’t send more.

WCNC

ABC News 8 headline: Multiple agencies work together to arrest Snapchat child predator
Multiple law enforcement agencies came together to solve an investigation where a man was offering indecent proposals to a 14-year-old girl. Tulsa Police Department detectives posed as the intended victim in an undercover operation through Snapchat.

KTUL

WCNC headline: Predators target underage children on Snapchat
A man was arrested for sending naked pictures through Snapchat to an underage girl...[A middle school student] said kids at school will sometimes delete the app before they get home to hide what they're sending socially from their parents.

WCNC

USA Today headline: Perfect selfies are all over Facebook Instagram and Snapchat. They're killing us
Experts say that obsessively curating our social media profiles and using filters is changing our perception of ourselves. At its most extreme, this fixation on appearance can manifest in a mental health condition that's being referred to as ‘Snapchat dysmorphia.’

USA Today

WSILTV.com News 3 headline: truck driver accused of victimizing underaged girls from Union County
In this particular case, the defendant has used that snapchat map to track down some of our victims, to show up where they are at unexpectedly, unannounced, simply by opening snapchat showing they are right here’...

WSILTV

Investigators discovered Mendez used images of someone else on his Snapchat and Instagram accounts to meet the girl.

CBS12

Heart of Illinois ABC headline: Online predators: What the FBI wants you to know to protect your children
‘I think what we see in the increase of the digital age on social media, unfortunately you have these platforms where predators have access to children where they normal wouldn’t have…’

HOI ABC

'Something seriously dangerous,’ Bayless said. ‘That’s what’s happening. These parents don’t know this is what’s happening right now in this group chat.’

KSNT

Pick up your child’s phone if they have a Snapchat and look at it.

KSNT

More Snapchat resources for parents, students, & educators

VIP Course: Student Overview: Learn the hidden features of TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, iPhones, Androids, and more (For students, parents, & educators)

Negative Effects of Snapchat for Teens

What 8th Grade Students Think About Snapchat & Instagram (video interview)

How to Make Instagram & Snapchat Safe for Students (Expert Guest Blog)

Listen to MomTalk podcast to hear Beth and Andrea discuss Snapchat

Conclusion

At SmartSocial, we believe Snapchat can be fun for students if they are using it responsibly. Parents should stay vigilant and closely monitor exactly what their kids are doing on Snapchat to help keep them safe.

Comment below to let us know what you think, what you learned, or if you have any other questions the SmartSocial team can help you answer!


, can you give us some feedback about this lesson?

Logged in and still not seeing content? This course may not be part of your membership plan. Click here to join.

Share Your Thoughts With Our Team

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Join our next digital citizenship live events:

Some events are free, others require a VIP membership

Become a Very Informed Parent (VIP) to get our social media suggestions in your email every Tuesday & Thursday.
Dotted arrow to right
Learn about our
"Very Informed Parent" 
VIP Program
Right arrow
Josh Ochs headshot Round
Schools & Districts: Partner with us to protect your community online

Our remote presentations (and website) teaches over a million students each year how to shine online. We teach students how their accounts can be used to create a portfolio of positive accomplishments that impress colleges and employers.

Partner with SmartSocial.com
Right arrow
SmartSocial podcast logo
Join Our Smart Social Podcast each week on iTunes

With over 240 episodes, Josh Ochs interviews psychologists, therapists, counselors, teachers, and parents while showing you how to navigate social media to someday shine online.

Listen on:

Apple Podcasts
Google Podcasts
Youtube
Spotify

Read More From Smart Social:

Read More Posts On Our Blog
Right arrow

Navigating Snapchat (2022): What Parents, Educators, & Students Need to Know

Fill out this form to receive free tips each week

Note: Many of our 400+ resources now require a low-cost membership to help us deliver great research and expert safety guides. Become a member today, login here, or have your district request a partnership to make these resources free for your community.