Snapchat safety: a how to guide for parents

Watch mummy bloggler Adele Jennings to see what you need to know

Snapchat, a real-time photo and video sharing app with an average of 210 million snaps sent a day. We provide you all that there is to know about the app.

What’s on the page

What is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a popular social media messaging app that allows you to send and receive pictures and videos (called a Snap) to users. Snap Inc is the developer of the app and also creates other products such as Snapchat Spectacles.

It is available for both Android and iOS users and is free to download.

Credit: TechCrunch

How does Snapchat work?

It was initially a private photo-sharing app. However, Snapchat features now include short videos, games, video chat, messaging, a place to store photos and more.

Each Snap shared with your followers is temporary and is available for 24 hours unless you delete it or set a different limit. You can also add different filters, lenses, emojis and text to your Snap. Additionally, you can create a group chat to talk with friends or message individual friends.

As well as the above, Snapchat has a ‘Discovery’ and ‘Spotlight area.

  • The Discovery feature – works as a newsfeed featuring content from news publishers and well-known people. Some use this feature to meet new people.
  • The Spotlight feature – working like TikTok, Spotlight is a dedicated tab in Snapchat for promoting short viral videos. The Spotlight feature will use an algorithm to recommend the ‘most engaging’ posts to watch based on what a user is interested in.

To register, users must download the social media app to their device. Then they must enter their date of birth and create and username and password. Users are then asked to enter their mobile phone number. This is an optional step to help if you get locked out of your account. However, you can use email instead if you prefer.

Parental controls light-bulb

Learn how to set privacy and safety settings on the Snapchat social platform to help your child have a safer experience.

See guide

What is Snapchat’s minimum age? 

Like many other social networks, the minimum age to use Snapchat is 13 years old.

Does Snapchat have any privacy or safety features? 

Snapchat introduced a Safety Advisory Board who ‘educate, challenge, raise issues, and advise Snapchatters on how to keep the Snapchat community safe’.
Apart from the usual reporting, blocking, and disabling location features, Snapchat also has introduced the following:

  • Here For You – a mental health feature that provides proactive in-app support to Snapchatters who may be experiencing mental health or emotional crisis, or who may be curious to learn more about these issues and how they can help friends dealing with them
  • Safety Snapshot – a digital literacy program by Snapchat aimed at educating Snapchatters about data, privacy, security, and online safety issues
  • Updated privacy for under 18s – There are no browsable public profiles for Snapchatters under 18
  • Default chat functions – By default, you cannot Chat or contact someone directly unless you have both added each other as friends

Take a look at our Snapchat privacy parental controls for info on how to enable certain settings.

Snapchat Games

Snapchat’s gaming feature ‘Snap Games’ has various competitive and non-competitive games to play with friends. It also has a voice and chats feature where you can either text or through live audio. Users can also receive in-game rewards, like coins or items by watching an ad, however, Snapchat has stated ‘video rewards may not be available for all Snapchatters’ – but not specify what criteria you would have to meet.

Snap Games can be accessed from the Snapchat app.

Latest Snapchat updates

As of Feb 2021

Bitmoji Wheelchair Representation for Inclusivity Project
Snapchat’s emojis called Bitmoji’s, have introduced a selection of accessible Bitmoji for Snapchatters to use from, such as a wheelchair Bitmoji.

Coming soon

Friend Check Up
As part of Safer Internet Day (9th Feb 2021), Snapchat introduced the Friend Check Up feature. This feature will prompt Snapchatters to review their Friend lists and make sure it’s made up of people they still want to be connected to. Friend Check Up is available for Android devices, and will be available for iOS devices in the coming months.

Snapchat Family Centre launched

What is Snapchat Family Centre?

Snapchat has introduced its Family Centre feature to help parents engage with their teens in their digital world. The feature allows parents to easily view new friends their teens have added however it will not show the content of conversations, protecting their teen’s privacy. According to Snap, this will, “reflect the way that parents engage with their teens in the real world where parents usually know who their teens are friends with and when they are hanging out.”

Using Snapchat Family Centre parents will be able to report accounts that may be concerning directly to Snapchat’s Trust and Safety teams. Teens will also be able to notify parents when they have reported an account or a piece of content on the platform.

Watch this video to learn more about how Snapchat Family Centre safety feature

What Snapchat Family Centre allow parents to do

  • See which Snapchat friends their teens have sent messages, photos, or videos to in the last seven days, in a way that still protects the teens’ privacy by not revealing the actual contents of their conversations (Snaps and messages)
  • See a complete list of their teens’ existing friends.
  • Allow parents to easily view new friends their teens have added, making it easy to start conversations about who their new contacts are
  • Easily and confidentially report any accounts parents may be concerned about directly to our 24/7 Trust and Safety teams to investigate
  • Access key explainers about how to use these tools; resources for important conversation starters with their teens; and additional tips for using
  • Snapchat safely Teens who have opted-in to Family Center will also be able to see what their parents see, with a mirrored view of features.

More to Explore

If you’d like to learn more about the Snapchat and other similar apps, here are some places you can visit:

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