Snapchat App 2021 Parent Guide

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Snapchat App 2021 Parent Guide

February 10, 2021
Green Zone

Parents and Teachers: This app is listed in the Green Zone.
We believe this app is a STARTING POINT for your student, but that you must monitor your student on every app they are on. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at

Gray Zone

Parents and Teachers: Please note this app is listed in the Gray Zone.
Parents should participate in these apps with students to keep them safe.
Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at

Red Zone

Parents and Teachers: This app is listed in the Red Zone. We believe this app is not safe for students to use without adult supervision. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at

Dangerous Social media challenges

Parents and Teachers: This app is listed as a Dangerous Social Media Challenge. Knowing about social media challenges before your teen does can help you keep them safe before an incident occurs. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at

Table of Contents

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. Snapchat can provide a false sense of internet security among young users and is constantly making headlines as a fan favorite among predators. If that’s not scary enough, Snapchat has also been linked by researchers and investigators to privacy issues, addiction, depression, bullying, and even suicide.

This is one app the Smart Social team is urging parents to take a close look at because there is a good chance it is already on your teen’s phone.

snapchat logo

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?

Dangers of Snapchat in 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 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.' AZ Family
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 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
News 12 headline: Man used fake Snapchat profile to meet girl for sex, sheriff says
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 headline: Police report filed when mother finds manipulation, self-harm in young son's group chat
'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

Why should parents 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 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.  
  • Watch the Navigating Snapchat (A Course for Students & Parents) for a detailed walkthrough of the app. 
    The course is included in your VIP (Very Important Parent) membership. New to the VIP program?  Become a VIP today! 


At Smart Social, 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.

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