Let’s face it: kids have their own language. From ever-evolving text lingo to impossible to decipher meme culture, the constant communication divide can feel a bit scary. After all, your teenager lives in their own world and trying to traverse it is a challenge. Social media, it seems, is their domain. But there’s one social media app that has parents raising their eyebrows. That’s why it’s good to know all about your teen’s Snapchat account.
Many parents are intimidated by social media. That has a lot to do with the disconnect, so don’t get too discouraged. A Snapchat account is pretty straight forward. When mastered, this app will act as a window into your child’s life. Snapchat is also a great way to bond with them. It’s not too late to familiarize yourself with the popular app.
How Snapchat Works
Snapchat is a picture sharing app unlike other similar apps. Instagram came around and showed us that social media can focus mainly on pictures shared between friends. Snapchat changed just how the picture sharing aspect of social media worked though.
Through Snapchat, users can take a picture through the app itself, send it to a friend or post it to their “stories.” But the catch is that the pictures remain only momentarily. They’re completely temporary and once they’re gone, they’re gone.
This new dimension of photo sharing piqued many teenagers interest, as Snapchat is used by more than 400 million people daily. Since it’s an invention, other social media sites like Instagram and Facebook took inspiration and introduced “stories” and temporary photo sharing.
The purpose of Snapchat
The conception of Snapchat began at Stanford University. Two students named Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy craved a new medium of communication. Emojis and texts weren’t enough for them. Yet, at the same time, selfies felt like overkill and even a little invasive. That’s when the idea came to them: “time-limited photo sharing.”
It’s a simple idea that was never intended to be an inappropriate or nefarious app, despite what you may have heard. But you shouldn’t worry yourself too much. There are ways you can educate your teen on harmful or inappropriate messages.
But before we get to that, let’s discuss why teens love their Snapchat accounts so much.
Why kids love Snapchat
To put it simply, your kids love their friends. They love the interaction and they love making new friends. So this new visual medium of quick photo and video messages is quite appealing to them. To them, it’s an easy way to goof off with their friends. Teenagers have learned that they can share funny images from their camera rolls, like memes and gifs.
If you understand why your kid is so obsessed with their Snapchat account, maybe it’ll be easier for you to get involved and enjoy yourself quite a bit? It’s worth giving it a shot.
The features of Snapchat
Don’t dive in just yet. There’s a lot more to Snapchat than just the “capture” and “send” buttons.
A Snapchat account comes with many features and many more to come with updates (including a ton of games). It’s swiftly becoming a more complex social media app, involving news, games, and constantly changing additions. So let’s get familiarized with those features.
Given its namesake, “snaps” are the main attraction.
A “Snap” is just another name for those aforementioned temporary pictures and videos. With 3.5 billion snaps sent a day and snaps lasting 10 seconds to a full minute, that’s a lot of picture sharing. And with a snappy name like that, it really sells the idea of how it works. But Snapchat has changed a bit over the years.
Now, you can actually save photos and messages within the app. This happened after people learned they could just screenshot the photos anyway.
Lenses and filters
One of the most fun things about Snapchat is the built-in feature that allows you to use different lenses and filters. Ever see a photo on Facebook of someone with a cartoon dog nose or cat ears? They likely took that photo on Snapchat. This feature has evolved quite a bit as well. Now you can swap faces with your friends.
This feature initially had parents worried. The snap map allows for people you are friends with on Snapchat to know your specific location.
When looking at the snap map, your friends see your custom made Bitmoji avatar with an overview of an actual map. Don’t worry, this feature is optional and can be turned off or on.
Your Snapcode is your specific profile code.
You’ll see it right when you sign into your Snapchat account. It’s that yellow square thing with a ghost in the middle, covered in black dots.
When you want someone to add you on Snapchat, just have them take a picture of that little yellow dotted square and it automatically adds them to your friend list.
Your Kid’s Snapchat Account: Everything You Need to Know
To know exactly how to handle your teenager’s Snapchat account is to know everything about Snapchat. But here’s why you should get involved:
Teenagers deserve a fair amount of privacy. You must remember when you were that age. Sometimes it probably felt like your parents suffocated you or were constantly over your shoulder. While independence is very important for your adolescent child, it’s not a bad idea to set some ground rules.
You may have heard about Snapchat’s notorious inappropriate-picture-sending connotation. It may be your teenager or someone else's, but some teenagers just can’t help themselves. Understand what the possibilities are and manage your and your teenager's expectations.
Sit them down and have a conversation with them about the dangers of talking to strangers, sending inappropriate images, and cyberbullying. All of those are very real issues with Snapchat.
Your best course of action is to become an expert on the topic.
WHAT USER AGE IS APPROPRIATE FOR A SNAPCHAT ACCOUNT?
Everyone has a cellphone these days, it seems. Whether or not you agree with it, most apps actually have a minimum user age. That goes for Snapchat as well. You must be at least 13 years old in order to use Snapchat. As a parent, you do have a responsibility to abide by those ground rules.
Snapchat asks for your age the moment you attempt to sign up for your account. It’s all about being compliant with the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). COPPA establishes when a child needs to get consent from their parent in order to acquire an account.
However, Common Sense Media has determined that Snapchat is appropriate for those who are sixteen or older. That is simply due to its occasional but inevitable inappropriate content.
How to monitor a Snapchat account
Snapchat doesn’t offer any way to monitor your kid's activity. In fact, that’s kind of the whole point of the app: when photos are gone, they’re gone. For this reason, you should focus on privacy settings. Go through those settings and discuss them with your kid. You’ll be able to change who has the ability to see your kid’s profile, location, and story.
You can also determine who’s allowed to send you messages. The default setting is that everyone can Snapchat you whenever they want. But if you go into Settings and then scroll down to Contact Me, you’ll be able to decide who’s allowed to send you or your kid messages.
It’s important to emphasize the conversation you should have with your kid. After all, it will be largely up to them what goes on with their Snapchat account. Another suggestion would be to get your own Snapchat account and add them as a friend. You won’t be able to see the messages they send to others, but you can still see what they post to their stories.
But start out with the conversation.
How to talk to your kid about Snapchat safety
Teenagers have a tendency to be rather reckless. So having a conversation with them, as we said before, is important. It isn’t just about the decisions they make, though. It’s largely about what they do in the event of something strange or uncomfortable happening. Teach your kid about how to block someone and that it’s okay to ignore or report someone.
In order to block someone on Snapchat, go to your friend's list. You can access that by clicking on the icon in the lower left side of the screen. There, you’ll get a list of your contacts. From there, you’ll get a list of user profiles. Click the avatar of the person you want to block. That will take you to the menu. In the upper right-hand side of the screen, there will be three dots. Click on that, and “Report” and “Block” will be at the very top. If someone is sending inappropriate and unsolicited images to you, feel free to report them before blocking them.
Your teenager needs to know what to expect from using Snapchat. Sit them down and talk to them about your concerns and educate them on how to handle those situations. Educate them on how to use Snapchat as well.
What is Snapchat’s anti-bullying policy?
Cyber-bullying violates Snapchat’s very simple anti-bullying rule: don’t do it. Some measures you can take in the event of bullying is reporting the user or by blocking them. Once you file a report with Snapchat, they’ll review it and determine what the next step will be. Bullying isn’t something to ignore. It’s important to communicate with your teens that if someone is bullying them, they’re likely bullying someone else, too. Reporting bullying on Snapchat is highly important.
Do Snaps disappear forever?
After sending a photo on Snapchat through private message it’s only a few seconds before it disappears (if you did not choose the infinity option). That’s always been the appeal of the app after all.
However, there are ways to bypass this, as was learned pretty early on by its users. Most cellphones have a built-in way of taking a screenshot. Snapchat will inform the user that their photo has been screenshot.
You can also save photos and messages now. When sending a personal message without a photo, you can just hold down on the message and it automatically saves, you can do the same with photos in the chat.
Finally, a photo that you have taken can be downloaded directly from that app after it’s taken.
What are Snapchat stories?
One of the newer features of Snapchat is the ability to post publicly to what is called a “story.” The stories allow you to post as many snaps and videos as you want. They remain for 24 hours, too. So other people will be able to see your posts and you’ll be able to see theirs if they post. These stories also allow for you to reply directly to each individual snap. You can send emojis, responses, and gifs as quickly as sending a message.
You’ve probably noticed if you posted a story a year or two ago that they come back in a way. A notification will pop up as a “Memory.” Memories allow you to view past stories and snap streaks. You can even add them to your new story.
Taking Snaps, saving, and posting
Snapchat is as easy as snapping a picture. It’s also as easy as clicking “save” when you’re done. Instagram and Snapchat certainly learned a lot from each other, because now you can decide to send or post saved photos later. Even downloading a photo from elsewhere and sending as you would a normal Snap.
Snapchat is a Lot of Fun When You Use it Safely
The point is, there’s a lot you can do with your Snapchat account. It’s a versatile and fun app that really plays with what we can do with social media. But it’s not without its dangers. Education is the most important thing when giving your child permission to use this app.
It wouldn’t hurt to check in on your teenager every now and then to see if they are following the basic guidelines. Once you become a master at Snapchat, you, your kid, and your friends can have an incredible amount of fun.
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