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.
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
- AppStore: 12+
- Google Play: T for Teen
- Headquartered in Santa Monica, CA and is a publicly-traded stock (SNAP)
- Terms of Service
Dangers of Snapchat in the news
[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
‘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
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
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
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
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
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
‘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
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 SmartSocial.com 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 SmartSocial.com 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.