Snapchat was designed to be a fun way for people to communicate. Of course, there are those that use it for nefarious purposes.
In this article we explore a few of the dangers your child or teen might face when using this popular social media chat app.
Educating your children about the potential dangers of using Snapchat can help protect them from cyberbullying, sending compromising pictures, or even online predators.
Contents of this Guide
The Dangers of Snapchat for Teens & Children
Parents naturally want to give their children the freedom to interact with their friends online, but the dangers for children using Snapchat are very real. Not knowing what your child is doing can cause sleepless nights or worse.
Below are some of the very real dangers children face when using the Snapchat app.
The Myth of Disappearing “Snaps”
As an adult it’s easy to understand how these messages, images, and videos can cause significant harm, even if they are only “temporary”. But this is lost on youth.
Some young users make the assumption that their “Snaps” are totally harmless as they disappear in just a few seconds. The truth of the matter is that anyone can save a screenshot of a “Snap” to their phone.
What they do with it then is completely up to them. And we know that children and teens lack a true understanding of the repercussions of their actions. This opens the door to all sorts of issues including aforementioned predators, online bullying, and more.
We’ve all experienced bullying of one kind or another. For most kids it’s a right of passage. But now days cyberbullying has become a huge problem. Unfortunately social media apps like Snapchat make it extremely easy. Oftentimes a picture or video of a teen in a compromising situation will be used to haze or roast them.
While most teens would say this is all in good fun, there are studies that show this has a significant impact on the psyche of teens and young adults.
Another popular use for Snapchat among teens is for “sexting”. What is sexting? It started out as flirtatious conversations over SMS or other messaging apps.
But now it even includes sending your love interest, girlfriend or boyfriend a revealing picture. Of course, the idea with Snapchat is that once the pic or video is viewed that it will disappear. This is a popular form of cheating among adults.
But there are apps out there that allow you to capture these photos or videos. In some cases this has ended with nude pictures or videos being posted to the internet.
Of course, Snapchat absolves themselves of any responsibility when you first sign up and agree to the fine print in their terms of usage. There are clear warnings that you must take complete responsibility for whatever you post.
This means nothing to most teens and young adults, even if they were to read the guidelines at all.
The Worst Case Scenario
While it’s been long forgotten there was a hack of hundreds of thousands of Snapchat pictures and videos back in 2014. Known as the “Snappening”, this leak contained child pornography, videos, and and images that teens had sent each other over the social media platform. Talk about a parent’s worst nightmare!
How to Protect Your Child on Snapchat
First and foremost it’s crucial for parents to understand that Snapchat should NOT be used by anyone under the age of 13. In fact, his is part of Snapchat’s end user agreement.
For teens between the age of 13 and 17 their agreement requires a parent’s consent. Of course, kids will always find a way around these sorts of limitations. There is a “kid friendly” version of Snapchat that doesn’t allow the sending or receiving of image files.
Have a Conversation with Your Children
Obviously children are not going to understand the full extent of the dangers of Snapchat usage. For them it’s a fun way to communicate with friends that doesn’t require adult supervision.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a conversation with them about these dangers. If they’re old enough to be using the app in the first place, they should at least grasp how it could be used against them.
But since kids rarely (if ever) consider the long term consequences of their actions, this should only be your first line of defense.
Setup Snapchat Parental Controls
If your child is going to be using Snapchat, here is a quick list of things you should do to help protect them.
- Change the app privacy settings by making sure that only “My Friends” can see your child’s posts and and send them pictures. This will filter out strangers who prey on children through the platform.
- Have a conversation with your child to make sure they understand that even though messages are deleted after being sent, someone can still take a screen shot and save it to their phone.
Monitor Your Child’s Snapchat Usage
Regularly monitoring your child’s Snapchat usage can help ensure they’re not getting into any potential danger. If they know you’ll be checking their phone, it may reduce dangerous behavior.
If you don’t have regular access to your child’s phone, you can also use software to monitor Snapchat conversations and photos without them knowing. You can read more about these apps below.
Install A Snapchat Spying App
Some people might disagree with this, but monitoring software such as these smartphone spy applications allow you to ensure that your child isn’t doing something that endangers their reputation or even their life.
Snapchat spying apps allow you to see everything your child does in their account. This includes pictures they send, messages, login information and more.