Parent eating with her child.

Snapchat Snapstreaks: What Are They and Why Do Parents Need to Know?

by Screen Time Team on 10/07/2019

What Are Snapstreaks?

A Snapstreak is simply a period of time where you’ve shared a Snap with somebody on a daily basis, and they’ve snapped you back. If you’ve sent a photo for five days, and gotten one in return, then your Snapstreak with that person is 5. Snapstreaks are represented with a fire emoji next to a person’s name, and the number of days they’ve shared a Snapstreak, and kick in after three days of sharing. 

You don’t win anything or get any special privileges on the app by maintaining a Snapstreak. Snapstreaks also aren’t tracked if you just chat with somebody; it has to be a Snap of some sort.

Should I Be Worried About Snapstreaks?

By themselves, no. That said, Snapstreaks are designed to get users to keep interacting with each other, and of course to keep using Snapchat. While there’s a degree of skepticism that should be applied to the “Skinner box” approach to social media, namely that social media taps into the part of our brain willing to hammer a button for a reward, there’s no denying Snapstreaks can speak to that mindset to some degree.

Snapstreaks can also illustrate just how much your family members are using Snapchat in the first place, and who they’re using it with, useful data when considering parental control apps. If you’re not a fan of the platform, or of certain users your child is friends with, that may be useful for discussions about Snapchat and whether it has a place in your kids’ lives.

And as we all know, kids can get carried away on anything, no matter how trivial. Especially if there’s some other emotional component involved, like sticking it to a nemesis on Snapchat by breaking their record for longest Snapstreak, obsession is in the cards.

Teenage boy looking at his phone.

How Do I Deal With Snapstreaks?

First, sit your family down and talk to them about keeping a sense of perspective. There’s no reward for getting or maintaining a Snapstreak, so there’s no reason to put any effort into one. If your kids have a dear friend they love to Snap with, a Snapstreak should be seen as just the natural side effect of their friendship, not a marker of its importance or a symbol of how enduring it is. Sooner or later, these streaks end; someone breaks a phone or goes on vacation.

Parental control apps can help by tracking the time spent, enforcing schedules to keep children off certain apps and sites during certain times of day, and by keeping apps like Snapchat from launching at all, if you feel that’s the necessary solution to the problem. But that’s just setting the stage to talk to your kids about responsible use of social media.

If you’re concerned about how your kids are using Snapchat, parental control apps like Screen Time can help. To learn more, try it for free!

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