This one is for the parents of teens and young adults. If you've been reading for a while, you may recall the blog done in May, 2020 where we discussed how to protect your kids from social media trouble. You can find that blog here. But this time, we are talking Snapchat directly. Snapchat is one of the most widely-used platforms for kids. Here's what Parents need to know when considering your kids using Snapchat:
1. Privacy: Ok, so even adults don't read the "terms of service" before clicking "agree" and having that app handy to use. But Snapchat's Terms should scare parents. Here are just a few of the things you are agreeing to when signing up for Snapchat:"
- No one under 13 is allowed to create an account for services. Additional services may require you to be even older."
- "You Grant us a license to use your content. How broad that license is depends on the Services you use and the Settings you have selected."
- "You grant Snap, Inc. and our affiliates a worldwide, royalty-free sublicensable and transferable license to host, store, use, display, reproduce, modify, adapt, edit, publish, and distribute that content."
But the Terms aren't the only thing we should be looking out for. Snapchat has the ability to track its users to a very specific location, to include their home. The Snapmap will even show what the user is doing, ie. using a phone, driving a car, sitting outside in the cold, etc. Do you want your child being tracked by their "friends?" Most kids will say they only add true friends, people they know, but research shows this is simply not true, and that often times users have many "friends" they don't even know. If your kid is going to use Snapchat, make sure they are in "Ghostmode" and not sharing their location with anyone and everyone.
2. Addiction: Statistics show that 95% of teens have access to a smartphone, and 45% feel addicted to their smartphone. Let's face it, parents likely feel addicted to their smartphones. The addiction factor is real, and Snapchat has cleverly marketed their app to ensure the addiction continues. Users are given notifications of "streaks" (where a user Snaps another user every day). Streaks become a form of popularity in the teen world, and teens feel they have to respond to each Snap and be constantly checking their Snaps. Even more clever, Snapchat has a tool that puts emojis next to the Snap Friends, telling each user if they are "best friends, close to best friends, etc." Snapchat has become a popularity tool as well. Of course your teen will find themselves needing to constantly use the app.
3. Inappropriate Content: Your kid might argue that they don't do anything inappropriate on the app, or that their friends don't send them inappropriate content. All it takes is one swipe right to find the "Discover" portion of the app, and I can assure you, you don't want your kids viewing that content.
4. Everything Disappears: The number one concern most parents have with Snapchat is that everything "disappears." Except, it doesn't. The disappearing factor of Snapchat provides Kids with a sense of security that simply isn't there. They will find themselves sending pictures and messages that they wouldn't normally send via text or other platforms, because they are just so sure it will disappear. Except it doesn't. Nothing disappears on the internet. If there is one lesson we can teach our kids regarding internet safety, that is the lesson. A screenshot by the other person, and the Snap is forever permanent. On the flip side, most Parents don't want their kids using an app where everything disappears, as there is no ability to monitor the communications.
Let's also talk about the Snapchat Vault, "My Eyes Only". This feature is used to keep memories and photos from being able to be seen. Kids might use this feature to keep parents from seeing Snaps that have been sent, saved, etc. This is often a place where inappropriate pictures might be stored for later use.
5. Legal Problems: Snapchat can land your child in some serious legal trouble. Everything from "Sexting" to Videoing, to Sharing Photos of Others, to Threats, have been and will be found on Snapchat and used to form the basis for arresting the Snapchat user. All it takes is a simple Google search to find thousands of articles where teens have landed themselves in criminal trouble for their Snapchat behavior.
Snapchat can be fun, when used with parental supervision. I hope this helps you stay informed. Happy Parenting!