What Parents Need to Know:
Most likely, your teen uses Snapchat. Today, there are an estimated 82 million users and the majority of them are between the ages of 13 and 25. Your teen is also, most likely, using it a lot. Roughly 350 million posts or “snaps” are sent daily. Snapchat has become one of the most popular ways teens communicate with each other. And for the parents who only see their children taking thousands of selfies that give them puppy ears and wagging tongues, it can be…confusing.
How It Works:
Snapchat is an app where teens can take fun, silly photos that they can instantly edit and share with friends. These posts, called “snaps” automatically delete after a short period of time, so the teen doesn’t have to worry about everyone seeing it, judging it, or having it last forever on the internet. The user also has control over which friends see the “snap.” They can send it to a group or just one friend.
But, Snapchat is more than just sending photos and videos. In the Friends section, your teen can chat with people, either one-on-one or within a group. The Discover page is where they can access daily news; anything from headlines to pop culture to sports. There’s also the Memories section, where their past stories and “snaps” are saved.
If you look closely, you may notice a fire emoji and a number next your teen’s name on the Friend screen. This is what is called a “streak” and chances are, it is a big deal to your teen. A “streak” is when friends send direct snaps back and forth with a friend for several consecutive days. Longer streaks are rewarded on the Snapchat apps with special emojis. For example, the “100” emoji for streaks lasting 100 days or the mountain emoji for an extremely long streak. These games and accolades can be highly significant to their social life, so you may want to keep this in mind when limiting or revoking their phone privileges. There are also ways to earn trophies and other accolades on the app, which teens find fun and it keeps them interested.
As with any app on your child or teen’s device, check out their privacy settings as often as you like. Snapchat does not share your location, but once you open the Snap Map, you can choose whether you want to share your location with specific friends, all friends, or none at all.
The Snap Map can be viewed and changed in the settings menu at any time, so your child will have control over this whenever they are using the app.
Next, in the Settings portion of the app, become familiar with the “Who Can” section. This is where your teen can restrict and control who contacts them, views their story and sees their location. Obviously, this is a very important section for parents to keep an eye on.
There is also a “See me in Quick Add” setting. With this setting On, your teen can be added to a wider range of Snapchat users, including friends of friends and anyone they’ve been in a group chat with. This can be a great way to expand their social network and possibly make new friends, but it opens a door for people they do not know to contact them.
Photos and videos never really disappear, do they? All you need to do is take a screenshot and a photo can last forever. Also, Snapchat has an option to purchase what is called a “Replay” that allows you to view the photo or video for a longer period of time. Users need to be aware of that option and use the app responsibly.
Project B3 Tips and Suggestions:
- Download the app yourself and get acquainted with it
- Check their Friends list regularly (not the conversations, just the list)
- Check the Privacy Setting on your child’s device regularly
- Set ground rules for Snap Map (ghost mode if it makes you more comfortable)
- Ask to see their “Memories” page every now and then to check in