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Snapchat

Does Snapchat have parental controls? Is Snapchat safe for kids? We answer all of your questions in this comprehensive app review for parents.

 

Snapchat Parental Controls - PYE

What is Snapchat?

 

App Store 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. Other features include the Discover News section, short-form Snapchat Shows, Snap Map, Snapstreak, filters, Premium Snapchat accounts, and more. All features are described in greater detail below. Along with Instagram and TikTok, it’s one of the three most popular social media platforms used by teens today.

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,” etc.), although users are supposed to be at least 13 years old in order to comply with the Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

We believe Snapchat is more of an adult app, and most recently, have used Snapchat as an example of what’s wrong with app ratings in our #fixappratings movement


What do parents need to know about Snapchat? Here are step-by-step instructions for making Snapchat safer for your kids.

 

Is my child ready for Snapchat? Every kid is different and only you can make the final decision. We recommend reading this entire post and then also reading our popular post about the right age for social media.

Related post: What’s the Right Age to Give my Kid Social Media?

Does Snapchat have parental controls? Not in the traditional sense. We define parental controls as items that parents can set and lock into place. There are plenty of functions that parents can set, which we’ll explain below, but everything can be changed back. This is the problem.

How do I set up my child’s first Snapchat account? Anyone can create a new Snapchat account, but there are 9 minimum steps that parents with young, first-time users should implement:
  1. Set the birthday correctly (see instructions below).
  2. Check who is in their friends and subscriptions lists from time to time and ask them if they can identify everyone in both lists. (See instructions below).
  3. Ask them specifically if they have any private, fake, extra accounts. Let them know what your rules are related to having multiple accounts.
  4. Create your own Snapchat account to get familiar with the app. For brand new Snapchat users, you might consider subscribing to their account, but this can be a big ding on trust. Be careful with this step.
  5. Control what’s shown in the Discover section. See the 5 mini-lists below.
  6. Ensure they toggle off “See Me in Quick Add” (see instructions below).
  7. Ensure location sharing is set to “My Friends” or “Ghost Mode,” depending on your comfort (See instructions below).
  8. Ensure you’ve had conversations with your kids about everything, including pornography and predators. Both are abundant on Snapchat.
  9. Use BARK. It’s one of only 2 solutions that give you any insight into Snapchat activity on Android (Covenant Eyes is the other, with Screen Accountability).

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How do I change the birthday on Snapchat? The birthday is established during account sign-up, but can also be changed afterwards: 

  1. On the main, camera screen, click the profile circle in the upper, left corner.
  2. From the profile screen, click the red gear in the upper, right corner.
  3. Click “Birthday.”
  4. Edit the birthday by clicking on the date, selecting a new one, and selecting “Continue.” Note, you can change the birthday 5 times before receiving a warning that “this is the last time you can change the birthday.” Since some Discover and ad content is selected by Snapchat based on the birthday, locking in the correct birthday by changing it 5 times intentionally might be something a protective parent might do.

How do I check who has been added as a “Friend” or “Subscription”? Friends are accounts where you are following each other. Subscriptions are accounts that you are following, but they aren’t following you back. You might subscribe to an account in order to view their Stories, but you can’t send them a Snap until you’ve added them as a friend.

  1. On the main, camera screen, click “Chat” in order to see who has been added as a “Friend.” Consider reviewing these from time to time.
  2. In order to see what accounts have been added as a “Subscription,” click “Discover” in the lower right of the main camera screen.
  3. Stories from both friends and subscribed accounts will appear at the top of the Discover section, as shown below:

Where are Snapchat Stories?

Snapchat’s features can be addictive. It’s no secret that Snapchat wants kids to use the app as much as possible. The Snapstreak is a feature that encourages kids to send and receive snaps from friends for consecutive days. We’ve written about the addictive nature of Snapstreaks, and we had the awesome opportunity to interview Jayden, who found himself hopelessly hooked on his “Streaks.” 

Related post: Snapstreak Addiction. Why Teens Can’t Put Snapchat Down.

 

How do I control what’s shown in the Discover section of Snapchat?

We’ve created 5 mini-lists of every toggle and switch in Snapchat that you can use to exert some control over the content in Snapchat ads and Discover. Remember, Snapchat is the app that attempted to “slip” the Cosmo After Dark segment into Discover. Our blog post called them out and they removed it, but Discover has a history of showing edgy content (including this recent article about teen abortion and this article about porn and masturbation).

#1 – Do these things in order to exert some control over the content shown in Discover: 

  • Open Snapchat.
  • Swipe right to open Discover. Or click where it says “Discover” in the lower right of the camera screen.
  • If it’s something that is already subscribed to it will appear in the “Subscriptions” section toward the top of Discover. Find the one you want, like Teen Vogue or Brother and hold down the card/tile. Turn the “Subscribe” toggle off, and then click “Hide Teen Vogue.”
  • If it’s NOT subscribed, scroll until you find it in the cards below. Hold down the card. Click “Hide [app name].”
  • Click the 3 dots in the upper right corner of Discover.
  • Click “Manage Subscriptions and Notifications.” If your child is subscribed to any channels, they’ll show up here and make sure the little bell is not colored in. This means notifications are turned off for any subscribed channels, decreasing distraction.
  • Swipe down to close that section.
  • Click the 3 dots one more time in the upper right.
  • Click “Select Interests” and select any that pertain to your kid and unselect any that don’t. This will help train Snapchat as to what content to show your kid over time. It’s a learning app.

#2 – Do these things in order to train the Snapchat algorithm to show your child more good articles in Discover:

  • Every so often click on one of the cards that looks like it might be something your child would be interested in or that you might want him to see. Click through the entire story – just tap the screen until you get to the end. Doing this every now and then will train Snapchat to what your child likes and show more of that rather than inappropriate things.

#3 – Do these things to train the Snapchat algorithm to show your child certain types of ads within Discover News (thank you Lucy from the Bark closed FB group for this awesome tip):

Sometimes you’ll see ads in the Discover area, but more often the ads you don’t want to pop up will sneak in after your child watches a story. Tap and hold the ad. At the bottom left hand corner, click the “i” icon. Then click on “report ad”. If you feel it’s inappropriate you can either report it for not following snapchats guidelines or you can simply click “I don’t like it”. This is probably where most of the reports should go. Then you’ll either click “This ad isn’t relevant to me” or “I dislike the product or service” depending on what the ad is about. That’s all! After doing this a few times you’ll see a significant change in the ads on your child’s account!

#4 – Change user preferences throughout the app – don’t miss this! VERY FEW parents know about these critical steps:

  • Click the profile circle in the upper left corner.
  • Click the red settings gear in the upper right.
  • Scroll down to “Clear Cache” and restart the app. Repeat the first 2 steps.
  • Scroll down to “Manage.”
  • Click “Ad Preferences” -> toggle off both “Audience-Based” and “Activity-Based.”
  • Click the back arrow in the upper left.
  • Click “Lifestyle & Interests.”
  • Toggle off anything that you think isn’t appropriate for your child. Toggle on anything you want your child to see more of.
  • Again, Snapchat is a learning app. It will take a couple of weeks, but the combination of these bullets, plus the bullets above related to Discover, will train the app what to show your kid.

#5 – Finally, one more set of ideas for rockstar parents and guardians:

  • When you see something potentially edgy in Discover, don’t freak out. Yes, you might decide to go into your child’s phone to unsubscribe from something, but first, ask yourself if this is an opportunity for an awesome discussion with you kid. Be curious. Listen.
  • Overall, let kids know that Snapchat can be a dangerous app. But stick to the rules, and you’ll be fine. It’s not that you don’t trust your kid. It’s that you don’t trust an app created by adults for adults.
  • If over a course of months you notice that your kid seems to be using Snapchat super well, then let him/her know! Give ’em a high five! Awesome job. Not every kid using Snapchat is sending nudes, kidnapping other kids, and reading Teen Vogue.

FYI: Unfortunately, there are no parental controls in Snapchat that allow parents to stop kids from undoing all of  the things above, so anyone can go back in and re-subscribe, un-toggle, etc. But that’s where awesome conversations should take over.

How do I toggle off “Quick Add” in Snapchat? This is one of those lesser-known toggles, which prevents your son or daughter from showing up for just anyone to add as a friend. For a first-time Snapchat user, you’ll want to turn this off.

  • On the main, camera screen, click the profile circle in the upper, left corner.
  • From the profile screen, click the red gear in the upper, right corner.
  • Thumb down until the “WHO CAN…” section, and click “See My in Quick Add”
  • Make sure the toggle is off.

How do I change quick add in Snapchat?

How to I change location sharing on Snapchat (including Snapmap)?

  • On the main, camera screen, click the profile circle in the upper, left corner.
  • From the profile screen, click the red gear in the upper, right corner.
  • Thumb down until the “WHO CAN…” section, and look for the “See My Location” option.
  • Make sure this is set to “My Friends” or toggle on “Ghost Mode” to hide location on Snapmap altogether.

How do I change location sharing in Snapchat?

Is there pornography in Snapchat? Yes but not in the traditional, sense through something searched for in a browser, but there are thousands of Premium Snapchat accounts that sell pornography.

We’ve written extensively about this issue in our viral post, Pornhub is on Snapchat. And Parents have no Idea. If your kid uses Snapchat, this post is a very important read.

Read: Pornhub is on Snapchat. And Parents have no Idea.

How do I block other users on Snapchat?

  • Click the profile circle in the upper left corner.
  • Thumb down to “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”.

How do I report a safety concern on Snapchat? If a child receives inappropriate media, or is being harassed, contact local law enforcement immediately. There are also some in-app steps you can take.

  • To report a Story on Snapchat, just press and hold on the offending Snap until a 🏳️ button appears. Tap it to report the Story and let us know what’s going on.
  • To report a Snap someone sent you, just press and hold on the Snap until a 🏳️ button appears. Tap it to to report the Snap and let us know what’s going on.
  • To report a Snapchat account, press and hold on that Snapchatter’s name and tap the ⚙button. Tap ‘Report’ to report the account and let us know what’s going on.

How do I delete a Snapchat account? You can’t delete your account from within the app. Here are the instructions from the Snapchat website:

  1. Go to Snapchat.com on a web or mobile browser.
  2. Go to Support, located at the bottom of the web page under the Community section.
  3. Once in the Support section, go to My Account & Settings -> Account Information -> Delete My Account.
  4. Follow Snapchat’s link to the account deletion page.
  5. Enter your username and password and hit log in.
  6. Enter your password again and hit continue.
  7. Select Delete my account at the bottom of the page.

Other miscellaneous Snapchat features include:

  • Snapmap allows a user’s location to be shared with all friends, if not toggled correctly. See the “How to I change location sharing on Snapchat (including Snapmap)?” instructions and screen shots above to ensure Snapmap is used safely.
  • 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.
  • Snapchat has 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.
  • 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.

The bottom line: Is Snapchat safe for kids?

Due to COPPA, we discourage middle school usage, but from a practical perspective, we know that many parents are going to allow it. Parents, please know the risks and parent accordingly. If you’ve read the information above, you are now plenty informed about what your children might be exposed to. 

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 and we think you should, too!

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*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! Protect Young Eyes Logo

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