Snapchat. It is the one social media app that makes most adults, and parents cringe (or at least roll their eyes). While Facebook still dominates the social media space among teens (71% of teens still use Facebook, Snapchat is part of the top five chasing these numbers), Snapchat is making a serious run as top contender. As parents, we need to be very careful if and when we expose our children to snapchat and much like any other social media platform, parents need to make sure kids are safe and responsible on Snapchat. Here are some of the key items to remember about current Snapchat features:
- Snaps posted to public stores are gone after 24 hours
- When you send a video or photo snap privately to someone it is gone whenever they open it; text snaps can be saved within the conversation
- There is limited discovery within the Snapchat application itself. There are third party apps that allow this feature, but from within the app, it is very limiting, so everyone is actively adding and trying to find other people which they can connect
- The new Memories feature allows you to be able to create an album from your snaps, and also allow you to upload saved photos and videos to your story
How does this information help parents educating themselves and their kids on Snapchat? Well, keep these numbers in mind:
- 60% of 13 to 34-year old smartphone owners are using Snapchat
- 13 years old is the minimum age requirements not just for Snapchat but for all social media accounts
These are just some of the statistics to keep in mind. While these are definitely important things to know and consider, just as important is how to keep your child safe if they use SnapChat.
Five things every parent need to know if you let your child use SnapChat:
- Help your kids setup their security on snapchat. There are two options in the Settings for “Contact Me” and “View My Story.” It is highly recommended that both should be set to My Friends and not Everyone so that way only their friends can interact and view their stories. This will keep the strangers at bay since users have to manually add each other (remember, no discovery within Snapchat)
- Have a conversation about screengrabs. Even though snaps posted to stories disappear after 24 hours, that won’t stop someone from taking a screenshot of the snap. The screenshots save to the user’s camera roll.
- Encourage comments to be PG. Screen grabs are not just images but conversations as well. Same thing goes for private communication, screenshots are possible even if the snaps delete after viewing; this is a good way to encourage appropriate conversations and “keeping it PG”.
- It is ok to monitor your kids Snapchat activities. Monitoring activities includes account passwords, private messages, memories, and posts to stories.
- Even SnapChat needs a tech time out. This one is a little tougher, you can encourage your kids to have fun with Snapchat, but do not let it take over their lives. Set some personal “offline” boundaries with it. For example, do not allow smartphone usage during family time, or when eating together. Keep the distractions to a minimum.
Snapchat is becoming one of the most popular, trending social media platforms currently with no sign of slowing down. Parents, if you decide to allow your child to use Snapchat, I would suggest you sign up for an account and make sure you are connected with them so you can keep tabs on their stories and also encourage an open door policy. Remind your kids that trust is earned and can be taken away. Make it ok for them to show you their snaps because if they have nothing to hide, this won’t be an issue.
Monitoring your child’s online activity can be overwhelming at times, which is why as a parent it is important to use a parental control software, so you can block, filter or be sent alerts to inappropriate activities.