Is Snapchat Safe?
A complete app review for parents.
What is Snapchat?
Snapchat description: Users “snap” an image or video, add a caption, and send it to friends, who can view the photo for a specified period of time before it disappears. Additional features include the Discover section, where explicit magazine articles are displayed, the ability to video chat with up to 16 of your friends or 32 with just voice (added April 2018), share Stories (similar to Instagram), display your location on the Snapmap, sustain daily contact with your friends with a Snapstreak, and more. Along with Instagram, it’s one of the two most popular social media platforms used by teens.
Category: Photo & Video (in the App Store)
APP Store rating: 12+ (“infrequent/mild alcohol, tobacco, drug, mature/suggestive themes, profanity or crude humor, sexual content and nudity”). Users are supposed to be at least 13, in compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. We have strong opinions about what the right age is for kids to be us Snapchat, which differ greatly from culture at large.
What do parents need to know about Snapchat?
Overall, Protect Young Eyes is pretty hard on Snapchat. We do not believe it’s an app that has the best interest of young people in mind. This is evidenced by the abundance of sexualized content it constantly provides through Discover. It was only after legal action from a teenager that Snapchat even started age-gating that content to tag some of it as 17+ (assuming the user’s birthday is correct).
In May 2018, it was the attempted release of X-rated content through Cosmo After Dark, which through our efforts and millions of parents, they decided to abandon the content after one week.
Related post: Snapchat Releases Cosmo After Dark (It”s P*rn)
Is it possible for a child to use Snapchat well? Yes! Should we let kids “play” in a playground that doesn’t care much for them? Probably not, but at Protect Young Eyes, we have to trust parents. We explain more about the app’s features below!
Snapchat launches original games! In April 2019, Snapchat released six new, original games, and this is only the beginning. For an app that’s not growing, games seem like an easy way to increase users.
Snapchat integration with other apps. Snapchat is taking a “if you can’t beat them, then join them” mentality and has created a “Story Kit” that apps can integrate into their platform. So far, more than 200 apps have done this (including Tinder and Houseparty). Users will have the option to post their snaps to any integrated app that they also have an account with. Snap has also partnered with Fitbit and Venmo to bring your Bitmoji avatar to these platforms. Partnerships with Spotify, Netflix, The Washington Post, and other news sources will allow users to share music, podcasts, preview images and news articles. These changes bring up questions about how Snap will track ad views by non-users as well as maintain user privacy.
Camera Settings. The camera in Snapchat is able to identify songs with Shazam and recognize objects so you can buy them from Amazon. In April 2019, Snapchat brought a lot more features to their camera. Giphy will populate GIFs related to objects that your camera detects. You can also take a picture of a math problem, Snap will bring up Photomath, and the problem will be solved for you.
It’s Life, Unfiltered. Although Snapchat and Instagram have similar features, Snapchat wants to differentiate itself in one key way. It wants to be the raw, unfiltered version of you. Silly. Crazy. This is very different from the polished “you” that exists in Instagram (unless your child has a fake “finsta” account).
Teen Addiction is their goal. It’s no secret that Snapchat wants kids to use the app as much as possible. They know “the more the teens play, the more the marketers pay” (our quote) – simple capitalism. We’ve recently written about the way Snapchat hooks teens.
Related post: Snapstreak Addiction. Why Teens Can’t Put Snapchat Down.
Discover is a Mess. This section includes links to articles from BuzzFeed, ESPN, Daily Mail, Cosmo, etc. Articles titled, “23 Pictures That Are Too Real If You’ve Ever Had Sex with a Penis,” images of dolls having sex, and mentions of blowjobs and drugs. AND YOU CAN’T TURN IT OFF! In 2016, we were one of the first to inform parents of this shocking content. Then, in May 2018, we broke the story on the Cosmo After Dark section, causing Snapchat to remove it! Power to the parents! But, we continue to watch because we just don’t trust this app.
- Related post: 5 Days of Snapchat Discover: Here’s What We Found
- Related post: Snapchat Brother channel tells kids: watch porn, masturbate, and always use incognito mode
- Related post: Discover News Shows Teens how to get an Abortion.
There’s a secret photo vault. It’s called My Eyes Only , where you can put embarrassing or explicit snaps, similar to a photo vault. You have to type in a PIN code to access those memories, and if you forget your PIN, Snapchat says they won’t recover the images.
There are too many kids making bad choices with the app. There’s an endless stream of news articles where pedophiles use the app to communicate with kids, kids commit suicide because of something that happened in the app, kids live streaming horrific acts toward each other, etc. It really is heartbreaking once you stop to Google “Snapchat news” and read.
There are few Parental Controls. Very, very few. Nothing on the phone (e.g., iOS Restrictions) has any impact on the app. But, there are some privacy settings (as explained in the next bullets). Bark is the only parental control solution we trust for monitoring the app.
Here’s how to block users. To block someone sending you snaps, tap the menu button, then “My Friends.” When you find the person’s name you want to block, simply swipe across their name on Apple devices or, on Android phones, press and hold the person’s name, then press “Edit” and then “Block” or “Delete”.
Here’s how to keep inappropriate Discover content out. Be sure to set your kid’s birthday correctly.
Here’s how to report abuse. If a child receives inappropriate media, or is being harassed, contact local law enforcement immediately. You might also contact Snapchat via [email protected]
Here’s how to limit location sharing. Yes, users share too much information about where they’re snapchatting. Here’s how to limit location sharing.
Here’s how to delete your account. Here are instructions for deleting a Snapchat account, should you find the risks to be too great for your child.
Snapchat Premium is where porn stars make millions. Make no mistake. Snapchat doesn’t care that porn performers use their app to make tons of money. Here are two articles that explain how it works. Beware – there’s some edgy content in these articles.
- Related article: Pornhub is on Snapchat. Parents have no Idea.
- Related article: Premium Snapchat: The Good, The Bad, The Explicit
The bottom line: Is Snapchat safe for kids?
Parents should take extreme caution when deciding if their tweens or young teens are able to handle the temptations this app presents. Snapchat’s own rules say users must be 13+. We have drawn the line at age 15 for all of the reasons pointed out in this blog post: No Social Media Until High School #waitingisloving.
Now What? Have you Heard of Bark?
Are you interested in having greater insight into the social media platforms that your kids are using? Bark is one of the best platforms we’ve tested. They’re constantly looking for ways to dig further into apps like Instagram, Snapchat, and others, to keep parents informed about the information that matters. We trust them!
*There are affiliate links throughout this post because we’ve tested and trust a small list of parental control solutions. Our work saves you time! If you decide that you agree with us, then we may earn a small commission, which does nothing to your price. Enjoy!