Snapchat is the King of Social Media…for now
With Stories, Snapchat Discover, live video, Spectacles, and other innovative features, Snapchat is still the top social media platform for teens and young adults. Although Instagram continues to shamelessly copy Snapchat, 32% of all teens in US at the age 13 to 17 years old use Snapchat, and many claim they prefer the app because their parents don’t use it.
That last statement is important, because it points to a huge gap between how kids are using the app and what parents know about how kids use the app.
And, because Snapchat is popular, younger and younger kids will tend use it. This is natural – the digital age just tends to push more and more on younger kids because they are drawn to whatever is trending.
*Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. We constantly test products to make sure we only recommend solutions that we trust with our own families.
What is Snapchat Discover?
It’s important for kids and parents to understand that Snapchat exists for one reason – to make money. It’s simple. Since the app is free, Snapchat makes money through use – the more the kids “play,” the more the marketers pay. One might even go as far to say that Snapchat is in the addiction business, because they profit through extended use (example: the Snapstreak basically preys on neurology tied to anxiety that compels kids to keep their streak going by using Snapchat daily).
One way that Snapchat allows marketers to engage its users is through the Discover section of the app, which can be found by clicking the three dots in the lower right corner of the opening screen. From there, users are treated to an array of articles and engaging, looping, Vine-like video advertisements from places like ESPN, Cosmo, Buzzfeed, E!, MTV, Mashable, The Bleacher Report, CNN, and others (they change daily).
Is Snapchat Discover Good or Bad?
We decided to click through the Discover section for five days and take screenshots of content that parents might not know is there for their kids to find.
**Warning** I’ve left most of the content in its raw format. No editing. Which means, you’re going to read some shockingly explicit, even X-rated things. But, I think that’s necessary, because it’s what kids are seeing daily. I need parents to have honest insight into what is there. I only censored out one word, which was in a Cosmo article talking about sex positions where it described a female body part that begins with a “c” and makes you cringe. Yes, you know the one.
Excerpts from 5 Days of Snapchat Discover
Snapchat Discover: May 19
- Images of alcohol consumption.
- An article about guys and sex and what they love about doing it.
- An extended article describing Latin American attitudes toward sex.
Snapchat Discover: May 20
- “Hope You’re Having a Sexy Saturday” from Cosmo.
- An article touting the benefits of having a sexually open relationship.
- The pros and cons of bath bombs for women.
- Thoughts about public hair.
Snapchat Discover: May 21
- Sex moves for each zodiac sign. The related article gives very descriptive details for how women can maximize pleasure not only for their partner, but also for themselves. This is the only place where I edited content.
- An article describing the most explicit gay male sex scene that will be shown in a movie this year.
Snapchat Discover: May 26
- Rapper Nicki Minaj shows us what a little rope does to cover her parts.
- We read about an androgynous group of Chinese girls and their new band.
- An article about ridiculous questions people pose about sex on online forums.
- Cosmo helps answer blow job questions through Q&A with three guys. These three guys proceed to describe their likes and dislikes in explicit detail.
Snapchat Discover: May 27
- Chyna shows us a sexy selfie.
- An article about male anatomical reactions at nudist camps? Seriously?
- We read about a weekend festival with dancing, music, drinking, etc.
- Cosmo gives us a trio of articles about orgasms, webcam sex, and an female’s perspective on oral sex.
Conclusion: What’s the Right Age for Snapchat?
COPPA tells us 13. Our experience in elementary school classrooms tells us that kids ages 9-11 are using it. But, the content in the Discover section seems to beg a stronger, stricter position.
“NSFW” is what people use to label pornographic images and erotic content so that people don’t get in trouble at work, “Not Safe for Work.” Please go back and read each and every one of the screenshots above. Are these articles you would feel comfortable reading at work? In front of your co-workers?
What is Snapchat Discover? We believe it’s something that young eyes should not see.
At Protect Young Eyes, we believe that both Snapchat and its arch rival Instagram should have a minimum age of 15 attached to them. Your elementary and middle school children just aren’t ready for what the app shows them. This is particularly true when up to 70% of Snapchat’s users are female. Which means, too many young females might be learning about love, life, and sexuality through the lens of the articles you saw above.
What I’m about to say isn’t nice, but it’s loving. Here we go.
When third, fourth, and fifth graders have their own social media account, including Snapchat, it’s not a social media problem. It’s not a kid problem. It’s not a device problem. It’s a parenting problem. We need more parents to be observant, engaged, and informed when it comes to parenting in the digital age. Frankly, we need more parents to say “no.” We need more parents who are willing to push back against cultural pressure to give their kid access to the latest thing. We need more parents who are willing to be loving instead of a best friend when it comes to parenting in the digital age.
There’s a big difference.
Related post: What’s the Right Age to Give my Kid Social Media?
I say these things because I love kids and I love seeing families thrive. If you would like more information about how to determine if your son or daughter is ready for social media, then we’ve written extensively in our most popular blog post about some important things to consider. For monitoring Snapchat, we highly recommend the BARK app*, which can link up with your child’s Snapchat account and monitor for inappropriate activity.
Parents – Here’s a Next Step:
Parents, there’s only one solution we trust to monitor popular social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram – BARK. Hundreds of families have signed up for Bark based on our recommendation. Is it right for you? Maybe! Try it today for free for seven days by clicking here or the image below.*
*Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. We constantly test products to make sure we only recommend solutions that we trust with our own families.
Chris McKenna, Founder: A man with never-ending energy when it comes to fighting for the safety and protection of children. Chris practices his internet safety tips on his four amazing children and is regularly featured on news, radio, and podcasts for his research. His 2019 US Senate Judiciary Committee testimony was the catalyst for draft legislation and ongoing discussion that could radically change online child protection laws and earned PYE the NCOSE Dignity Defense Alert Award in 2020. The PYE team has performed over 1,700 presentations at schools, churches, and nonprofits and was featured in the Childhood 2.0 movie. Other loves include running, spreadsheets, nature, and candy.