Snapchat. It is one of the fastest growing social media apps, and I won’t lie, it is one of my favorite apps to use, yet it is one of the most confusing apps to parents and their children. The purpose of this post is not to discourage the use of this app but simply to inform both parents and children what they are getting into when they download Snapchat.

For those of you who don’t know what Snapchat is, Snapchat is a social media app where users can send photos to a friend. The photos only appear on the phone screen for a matter of seconds or until the friend closes the app, thus creating the illusion that the photo was “deleted” after it was opened. In addition to sending photos, Snapchat has also added the feature of “My Story” which is where the user can take a photo or video and share it to all of their followers. Because of the confusing nature of Snapchat we have made the three basic warnings to be aware of when your child downloads it.

  1. Intimacy: One of the most appealing things about snapchat is how intimate it is. Unlike other popular social media outlets such as Facebook and Instagram, on Snapchat, no one can see what you are doing. Only the subscriber can see how many views their story received. Only the subscriber and the recipient can know what messages they sent back and forth. So, what concerns does this raise? It makes it almost impossible for a parent to know what images their child is sending and receiving thus making the temptation for sexting that much more appealing. While on other social media outlets others can see what you post, Snapchat doesn’t. Everything you do is in private and because of that children have to be aware of these temptations well before they download the app.
  2. Snap Map: One of Snapchat’s newest features is called the “Snap Map.” This feature is where Snapchat users can see where each of their friends are on a geographic world map. If you are wondering where your friends are then you simply check your Snap Map and it will tell you down to the precise square foot to where that person is. One of the nifty settings on Snapchat is that you can manually choose to go on “Ghost Mode” which means no one will see you on their global map. We would suggest turning this mode on to make it so Snapchat isn’t tracking where your child is or any other Snapchat user your child adds.
  3. The Discover Feature: The Discover Feature gives subscribers the ability to see quick visual segments from popular internet content sites. These sites could be MTV, BuzzFeed, and Refinery 29 just to name a few. The only problem with this is many of these sites post sexually explicit content on their pages that shouldn’t be viewed by children. In addition to this, subscribers need to scroll past this section in order to get to their friend’s stories.

Snapchat is not a terrible app. I use it every day. However, parents should be aware of what their child is using on their smartphones and how they can talk with their child about the potentially harms their child can face when using popular social media channels.

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