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June 24, 2017 Update: SnapMap is their latest feature, which uses your Bitmoji on a map to show everyone where you are. It’s a potential nightmare for protecting kids from predators. Here’s how to turn it off.

June 29, 2017 Update: Custom geofilters can now be created within the app for your events. Instead of going through a web browser, users can now create the geofilters easily through Snapchat’s built-in mobile creative studio that lets you add filters, text, stickers, and Bitmojis. Geofilters attached to an event are a location giveaway, which should cause concern. 

App Details:

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. With the July 6, 2016 update described above, it is becoming more like Facebook every day.

Category: Photo/Media Share, Social Networking

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.

snapchat geofilter

What parents need to know: 

  • Custom Geofilters(added June 28, 2017) users now create their own event artwork and whenever someone approaches the physical location where the event is taking place, the geofilter pushes them certain content. It’s a physical location risk. Too many people can know where you are.
  • SnapMap(added June 24, 2017) allows users to be seen on a map using their Bitmoji avatar. Fun, but rife with predator risk. Here’s how to enable “ghost mode.”
  • 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. We’ve written extensively about DISCOVER in our most popular blog post ever.
  • Memories – In their words, “Memories is a new way to save Snaps and Stories on Snapchat. It’s a personal collection of your favorite moments that lives below the Camera screen.” Snaps that don’t disappear is a significant strategic shift for an app that has been historical ephemeral and proud of it.
  • My Eyes Only – The July 6, 2016 update added the ability to upload photos from your camera roll. Memories also include a section 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 memoriesSnapchat Stories – shows the last 24 hours of snaps shared with your friends.
  • Snapcash – connect a bank account and send cash to friends, or pay for a lap dance (strippers).
  • Sexting and Revenge Porn are risks – scorned lovers using screenshot naughty photos from an ex to get revenge.
  • No 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).
  • Control who can send you snaps: click the menu button in the lower right corner to access settings. By “Send me Snaps,” be sure it says “My Friends” not “Everyone”. That way, only people you’ve added to your friend list can send you pics/video.
  • 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”.
  • Report abuse: if a child receives inappropriate media, or is being harassed, contact local law enforcement immediately. You might also contact Snapchat via safety@snapchat.com.
  • Location Sharing: yes, users share too much information about where they’re snapchatting. Here’s how to limit location sharing.
  • Deleting Account: here are instructions for deleting a Snapchat account, should you find the risks to be too great for your child.

Snapchat Bottom Line: 

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+, this feels more like a 15+ app.

If you want extra assurance, then the Bark solution can monitor for inappropriate words used in Snapchat, sending alerts to parents (assuming you know their account information). Pretty cool!

BARK Parental Controls

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Social Networking
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App, Pictures, Snapchat, Social Media