Snapchat is a social media app in which users can share photos and videos, or “snaps” that disappear after a designated time that the photo sharer decides. Snapchat users can choose to either privately snap select friends, add snaps to their stories which all of their friends can see, or even add it to the snap map, which all snapchat users are able to see regardless if they are friends or not. In addition to this functionality, users can send messages to their friends and choose to share their location with their friends.
According to Statista, there were approximately 428 million monthly active users on Snapchat in 2021. About 20% of the audience on Snapchat is between the ages of 13 and 17.
In 2013, Snapchat released an under-thirteen version of Snapchat for kids aptly named SnapKidz, but discontinued the platform within a few years. Today, there is still an age limit of thirteen to use the regular version of Snapchat, but this can easily be bypassed if the child inputs a different birth year.
Snapchat can be dangerous for kids and teens if certain privacy settings are not in place. And the nature of disappearing content makes it difficult to monitor what your children are exposed to on the platform. These are some of the other ways that Snapchat can be unsafe for your children:
The Snap Map is an interactive map within the Snapchat app that shows snaps that are popular in a certain area if a user has added their snap to a location. These can be seen by anybody, whether your child is friends with them on Snapchat or not. This functionality does not actively share your child’s location with strangers, but strangers will know if your child has been to that location. Snap Map allows you to actively share your location with friends on the platform. Read more about Snap Map.
Users can connect other social media accounts and their contacts list to populate a “Quick Add” list that identifies people you may be friends with. This opens up the possibility for your child to add strangers as friends.
Users are able to create a public profile, in which people can “subscribe” to their account. This allows any Snapchat user to see your child’s content.
The discover section contains content from others, including sponsored content. Some of this content can be mature in nature and may be inappropriate for your child to view.
Streaks occur when snapchat users send each other snaps for several days in a row. Continuing a Snap Streak can be addicting and cause your child to increase their screen time. Learn more about Snap Streaks.