Snapchat is a popular social media app that has captured the heart of kids and teenagers. It is a platform where users can share snaps of themselves with friends. It also allows the send chats and audio messages. But nothing beats the filter. There are tons of filters on Snapchat, which get updated constantly, setting it apart from other apps in its category.
But is Snapchat safe for kids? Now that's a million-dollar question to which most moms want a genuine answer. Fortunately, this post answers that from a mom's standpoint.
From one mom to another, Snapchat is not safe for kids. Many things can happen to your child through the app. Although it has its safety features and setting, it doesn't beat iron-clad parental monitoring.
First, you need to create an account before using the app. All you need for the signup is a username, email address, and date of birth. Once created, you can add friends by uploading your contacts, searching for people, or scanning the QR. Simple right?
The best part is that Snapchat differs from your regular social media app. How?
Sometimes, we moms wonder, "why can't these kids leave this app alone? Why Snapchat? What appeal does it hold for them? Truly, it's baffling. But after much research, here are some reasons.
Snapstreaks help teenagers feel as though they are in contact with their friends. The idea of snap streaks is to send a friend a snap for days in a row, and they send theirs back. Usually, the number of days a streak lasted is displayed in front of the friend's contact. Due to how kids bond online, they believe a snap streak is a measure of their friendship.
The Snapchat filter is the selling point of the app. Using it is entertaining. Snapchat filters are always updated; creating videos or taking pictures with them is also entertaining. Sending these snaps to friends or putting them on your story is entertaining.
Another reason why kids love Snapchat is the disappearing chats. It is also why parents are asking," is Snapchat safe?" Teenagers believe they can talk about personal issues without it been seen by others. It is nice for kids to vent their anger and frustration or bear their hearts out to a friend since the chat disappears once it is closed.
Snapchat is unlike Instagram, where people upload pictures just for likes and comments. On Snapchat, it's about entertainment. You don't need standard celebrity pictures and videos. The app itself has fun filters for everyone to use regardless of popularity. It is also impossible to see the number of friends another user has. But on Instagram and Facebook, it's all about likes, comments, and the number of followers. The bottom line is that kids can be themselves without the influence of an influencer.
The best way to determine if Snapchat is safe for kids is to review the age requirement, privacy/security, dangers of the app, and the safety settings/features it offers.
Snaps and chats are designed to disappear after they have been viewed. The delete is by default. Even unopened messages are deleted after 30 days if they're one-on-one. But 7 days if sent to a group. However, a chat can be saved in chat media by long pressing or holding the chat.
Saving chats were also designed with privacy and security in mind. You can determine if you want your snaps saved or not. You can also set a time frame to allow the snap to be saved. If you change your mind, you can delete any chat or snap, even the saved ones.
By default, Snapchat sends a notification to the other party whenever their chat is screenshotted or screen recorded. This way, users rest assured that no one will have a copy of their snap, chat, or story without them knowing. Privacy on Snapchat is privacy. No one can do anything without a notification.
My eyes only is a Snapchat feature that allows you to save snaps you don't want to disappear. Think of it as a photo album. It makes it easy to reminisce. The snaps saved here are saved under a passcode. Hence, "my eyes only." No one else can see them. Even if they can access your Snapchat, only you can unlock the "my eyes only" passcode.
Snapstreaks are created when two users send snaps back and forth for up to 72 hours. When streaks are created, a flame emoji appears next to the username and the number of days the streak has lasted. Kids see streaks as a measure of how often they use the app and a measure of friendship. Maintaining streaks is important to kids, eventually leading to addiction.
Another potential danger of Snapchat is how easily it allows kids to get in touch with strangers. Snapchat has a feature called "quick add." It sets kids on the path of strangers. The teenage rebellion and constant need for validation increased by social media make them eager to add many people online rather than those they know.
Snap maps let users see where their friends have been, their favorite location, what's happening around them, and where they are. When users open this feature for the first time and choose to share their location with their friends, they will appear on the snap map. This feature is seemingly harmless, and kids may want to share their experiences with their friends. But even Snapchat has warned about being mindful of the snaps submitted to snap map. It is stored indefinitely and for a long time. Real-time info about the child's location is shared, putting them at risk.
The discover section of Snapchat enables users to flick through snippets of stories and trending news. It contains content from magazine posts, TV stations, and other channels. Most times, these contents are inappropriate for kids and teenagers. This section cannot be deactivated. Thus, posing a potential danger to young Snapchat users.
A larger percentage of kids and teenagers have experienced one form of bullying or another at one point online. Cyberbullying is a common practice on social media, even Snapchat. Default disappearing of snaps is not even doing justice to the situation, as parents can not see evidence of it.
The default disappearing of snaps and chats, though a security measure, is a potential danger. Evidence disappears alongside it. As Snapchat attracts kids continually, it also attracts sex offenders who are willing to take advantage of them. When they share their location on the snap map, it worsens the situation. There have been cases of such people sexually exploiting kids online.
It is no more news that teenagers are easy targets for cybercriminals who take advantage of their innocence. Their device can be hit with malware without their knowledge. Social media apps, Snapchat included, are the target ground for these criminals pulling phishing pranks on unsuspecting kids and teenagers.
Kids are flooded with graphic content within less than 24 hours of creating a Snapchat account. The design of Snapchat makes it easy for this to happen. Graphics contents are usually contents containing realistic pictures and languages. This term is usually associated with R-rated movies, drugs, violence, sex, and foul language.
One way to ensure your kid's safety on Snapchat is to make sure no one but their friends can contact them there. To do that;
Also, ensure that your kid is something other than a Snapchat recommendation. The quick add feature recommends fellow users as friend recommendations.
Snapchat has four different profiles; my profile, friendship profile, group profile, and public profile. My profile features your Snapchat info. Friendship profile contains saved chats and snaps from friends. Group profile has saved chats within a group chat. A public profile enables the user to be discovered by other users.
To keep your profile private;
Another Snapchat safety setting is to hide your kid's location, especially if they have enabled snap map. To do that;
It will stop their location from being updated each time they open the app. It hides the location from everyone with whom they're sharing it.
When content is reported, it is reviewed by Snapchat. They'll view it and the account to decide if the content is against the community rules. Snapchat does not allow content that promotes violence, threats, or harm. Suppose the reported content is one of these. In that case, the content will be removed, and the company will suspend the reported account. One report is enough for that to happen.
To report unsuitable content on Snapchat;
The family center is the newest Snapchat safety feature added to the app. It gives parents an insight into what their kid is doing on the app and with whom they are in contact. Parents can selectively report accounts and snaps. To use the family center;
Although Snapchat has incorporated some safety features and settings, as mentioned above, it is not foolproof. But you can still make it safer for kids with the AirDroid Parental Control app.
It is the best comprehensive parental control app. It allows parents to monitor and manage their kids' Android devices remotely. It props up incredible monitoring and managing features to make Snapchat safer for kids. Some of these features include;
Get an instant alert when your kid opens a restricted app, goes in or out of a geofencing, or has a low battery.
AirDroid has real-time location tracking to know where your kids are. You can also check their location history and set geofences.
This feature ensures a balance in digital activities. It disables all apps for a while, limits screen time or period, and certain app usage.
You get text notifications, social media notifications, and incoming call notifications. Whatever notification the target device receives, AirDriod sends it to you too.
You can remotely use their camera and audio recorder to listen to and monitor the phone's surroundings.
Snapchat is a popular app among youngsters. Like most social media apps, it comes with its danger. However, the company has added safety features to the app. These features are not failsafe. Hence, you need a parental control app to ensure your kid's safety.
AirDroid features device monitoring and managing remotely. It is available for free download. Click here to try it today!