Jun 10, 2021
Is Snapchat Safe? A Complete Guide to Parents
Snapchat is one of the most popular social media apps. Its popularity is growing exponentially, especially among the youngsters. But with its growing popularity, it has raised concerns among people, mainly the parents, regarding how safe the Snapchat app is, how they manage your data, and should you or your kid use this app?
I know how essential and genuine the concerns regarding Snapchat safety are for you. Especially if you are a parent, you want to make sure that whatever your children use, it must be safe for them. So, keeping your concerns in mind, I will explain Snapchat, its features, internet safety, and what you can do to make it more secure. In this blog, I will give you a guide to Snapchat and talk if it is safe for you and your kids.
How does Snapchat Work?
Here I am going to give you a guide to Snapchat. Snapchat is very popular, especially among teens and young adults. It is a free app. To get started, you have to download the Snapchat app from Play Store or App Store and create an account.
Then, you can send text messages, snaps, create stories, and add to your snap the Story of a 24hour period. You can add new friends on your Snapchat app. Snapchat can be used to get news and entertainment. It can provide many features that allow you to share your location, discover Spotlight, save for snaps, revisit old snaps, and more.
So, the Snapchat app is basically like any other social media app. Now talking about its safety, you must have many questions about it, like is it safe? Is Snapchat secure? Is Snapchat safe for kids? Is it appropriate for teens? Is Snapchat safe for you? Does it follow the guidelines of internet safety? Does it expose your kids to inappropriate content? Don’t worry; I am going to address all of your concerns in this blog.
Who is Snapchat for?
According to its terms of conditions, users must be at least 13 years old if they want to open a Snapchat account. You must type your birthdate to create an account, although there is no age verification, meaning children under 13 can easily sign up. According to Common Sense Media, Snapchat is suitable for teenagers aged 16 and over, owing to the susceptibility to age-inappropriate content and marketing ploys like quizzes that gather your personal data.
Unique Features of Snapchat
The features of Snapchat that make it distinct from any other social media are:
Snaps are the short video clips that you make using the Snapchat camera. There are hundreds of Snapchat filters available in the Snapchat camera. You can use these Snapchat filters to create a snap and upload it as a story, send it to your friends, save it on your memories or share it on other social media.
You can also save the snaps. You can send saved Snaps to friends, added to My Story, deleted them from Memories, or exported them to your Camera Roll. You can also make changes to saved Snaps before sending them. Swipe up from the Camera screen to access Memories, press and hold on a saved Snap and tap the desired alternative.
Snapchat has grown popular because of its disappearing messages. This feature is somehow unique and, might I say, a little bit cool as well. Every message you send, whether a text message, snap, photo, video, or voice message, destroys itself once the receiver views it. This feature has made users increase their trust in Snapchat.
If you want your messages to stay on Snapchat, tap on it, and if you again want it to be deleted, “un tap” that message. It’s as simple as that. The disappearing messages get permanently deleted from the Snapchat data server once the receiver views it unless you tap on it. You can also find out if someone has taken the screenshot of your disappearing messages.
Snapchat Story is a compilation of your Snaps that play in the order in which they were made. For the next 24 hours, your friends can open your Story an infinite amount of times. You can see how many people viewed your Story and which of your friends saw it.
Snapchat mentions up to 200 Snapchat users who watched your Story. After 200 views, you’ll see a number but no names. You can also see whether or not someone took a screenshot of your Story.
The Snap Map is a feature of Snapchat that shows the GPS location of you and your friends on Snapchat. You can share your locations with your friends and see what’s going on around each other’s locations. You can also browse Snaps uploaded to Snap Map from all around the globe, such as festivals, sporting events, breaking news, news of celebrities, and more, on Snap Map.
On the MapMap, you can find a variety of items, including:
- Snaps: People from all over the world upload Snaps to Snap Map. Simply tap on the heatmap to see Snaps from that location; blue indicates that some Snaps were taken there, while red indicates a lot.
- Stories: Stories are created around specific sites or activities, such as a museum, a football game, or a high school graduation. To view a circular Story, tap it.
- Friends: You will see who has decided to share their position with you. Tap a friend to initiate a chat, or press and hold to open their profile. You can still search for a specific friend by tapping ‘Search’ at the top of the Map page.
- Places: On the Snap Map, Places make it easy to engage with local businesses. To locate a spot, press a Place on the MapMap or the “Search” button at the top of the Map page.
When you use Snapchat, you might see that your Snapchat friend has a fire emoji next to their profile. That indicates you and your mate are on a Snapstreak, which means you have Snapped each other within 24 hours for more than three days in a row.
The number next to the fire emoji indicates the number of days you’ve been on a Snapstreak. To maintain a Snapstreak, you must send a Snapback to each other within a 24-hour period. If your Snapstreak with a friend is about to expire, you’ll see a sand clock emoji next to their name.
You can save Snaps and Stories to Memories, view your Camera Roll, and share Memories with your Snapchat friends. To access Memories, swipe up from the Camera screen. You have the option of saving a whole Story or just a single Snap from it. Create a Snap and then press the Snapchat download button at the bottom to save it to Memories.
Snapchat also has a flashback memories option, which allows you to go back in time and relive your favorite moments from the previous year. If you have a saved Snap from at least one year ago, Flashback Memories will appear as a Featured Story in Memories. You can share this Story with your friends on Snapchat, save it to your camera roll, or just reminisce and be nostalgic about the good old days.
A Snapcode is a special picture that you can scan with the Snapchat camera to perform various actions. You can send and scan Snapcodes to add new friends, connect to websites, unlock Filters and Lenses, access exclusive content, and more.
You can create your own custom Snapcode that, when scanned, connects to a website. You can share your personalized Snapcode with friends or save it to your Camera Roll. You can also modify the Snapcode or see the number of times it has been scanned.
Spotlight is a discover section on Snapchat. Spotlight is the most convenient way to explore the world of Snapchat in one location and see views from across the whole Snapchat community. It highlights the most amusing Snaps, regardless of who made them. You can swipe up and down to switch between content and discover Spotlight.
You can also access and upload Spotlight content on the web. Snaps uploaded to Spotlight can now or in the future appear in Search results and Stories on or off Snapchat. If you see something explicit or inappropriate on the Spotlight page, you can report it to Snapchat.
Is Snapchat Secure?
In late 2018, Snapchat enabled end-to-end encryption for snaps on its network. So, the snaps you send are end-to-end encrypted, and the hacker cannot decrypt and view your snaps even if they bypass the system and get access to it. However, Snapchat’s encryption is confined to snaps and does not apply to text messages or group chat messages sent via Snapchat.
Likewise, only you have access to your Memories. But Memories are the database server of Snapchat. As a result, if Snapchat is hacked, your photos and videos in your Memories may be made public. While Snapchat Memories is a simple method to save your photos and videos if you want to keep them secret, save them straight to your smartphone.
Is Snapchat Safe for Teens?
Most of the target users of Snapchat are teens. As teens love exploring, Snapchat has developed many features that I have mentioned above which attract teenagers and they love using it. Teens use Snapchat to click Snaps, share with their friends, added to the story, and so on. However, sometimes teens can knowingly or unknowingly fall on the dark side of Snapchat.
Like, the Snaps they share can come on the wrong hands which sexual predators or pedophiles use for exploitation. Teens can give away their location on Snap Map which can allow anyone to know their location. Likewise, teens can chat with online predators who act like their fake friends and also become the victim of cyberbullying. So if teens are not aware, Snapchat can be a very dangerous place for them.
What are the Dangers of Snapchat?
The Snap Map can Give out Your Exact Location.
The Snap Map is a fun way to show your friends your location when you take snaps and post them on Snapchat stories. It allows your friends to know where you took the snap and added it to your Story.
The Snap Map feature may mislead users into believing that their location only displays on the Snap Map once they have added a snap to their Story. But is it true? However, anytime a user opens the Snapchat app, their location is posted on the Snap Map. A Snapchat friend may easily track your location down to a specific street address and discover where you live.
If someone is stalking you, they can use the Snap Map feature on Snapchat and quickly locate where you live, where you work, what restaurants you go to eat, and many of your other personal information.
Maintaining Snapstreak can Bring About Unhealthy Competition.
Sapstreak does seem like a fun feature, but slowly it started to become a competition. People are starting to compare their Snapstreaks, basing their popularity on it, which has created unhealthy competition. Just to increase their streak, people are creating more snaps and sending them to everybody. Such unhealthy competition can affect the self-esteem, especially of the teens.
This habit can seriously turn from level 0 to 100 in terms of danger. People can send inappropriate snaps to increase their Snapstreak, and the snaps can get in the wrong hand very quickly and increase safety concerns. More than that, you are giving out your privacy for others to invade.
Snapchat Doesn’t Have End-to-End Encryption on Text Messages.
End-to-end encryption is essential for internet safety. It helps to protect the data you send over the internet from hackers. Even if the hackers access the data, the end-to-end encryption doesn’t allow them to crack the code, making it impossible for them to read your data. Though the Snapchat app has end-to-end encryption on its snap feature, it doesn’t have encryption for text messages.
So if hackers breach the text message, voice message picture, or video you sent on Snapchat to an individual or a group, they can easily read the message you have sent. Hence, the data you share on Snapchat isn’t completely secure.
The Sexting App
Many people, especially teenagers, consider Snapchat as “the sexting app” because they share personal, intimate snaps, images, and clips with the expectation that they would self-destruct. With the introduction of Snapchat, sexting has progressed from a stigmatized and illicit pastime to a mainstream activity.
You never know the messages sent to you can be inappropriate sext messages. So even if your kids are young and below 18, they can get sexted by online predators, pedophiles, which is more than inappropriate and not safe for kids.
Also, the other question is it safe to share with others your intimate snaps on Snapchat? Spanchat does have the feature to delete your snaps once the receiver has viewed them. Furthermore, Snapchat also assures that it destroys your snaps from their database once the receiver views them. You also get a notification if the receiver screenshots your snaps. So, Snapchat does seem safe.
However, there are many other ways the person you send you snaps to can take screenshots without you knowing. Like they can use a screen recorder or even use another phone to record your snaps. Therefore, no matter how many features Snapchat might add, it is not entirely safe to send your intimate snaps or “sext” on Snapchat.
Kids can View Age-Inappropriate content on Spotlight.
As I mentioned above, Spotlight is a discover section on Snapchat that highlights the most amusing Snaps. Here you can explore the world of Snapchat and its community. You can see what is popular and trending on Snapchat. It can also be the source of your news and entertainment.
However, the way snaps on Spotlight can also consist of inappropriate content that may not be age-appropriate for your kids. Children have the habit of reaching to places they are not supposed to be. So unintentionally, they can discover explicit and inappropriate content on Spotlight.
How can You Keep Yourself Safe on Snapchat?
Disable Adding Your Account as a Friend Via Phone Number
There are a lot of fake people on Snapchat who can add you as a friend. So, if you are concerned about your privacy, you should not make your phone number or any personal information public on Snapchat. Snapchat settings also enable you to choose whether or not other users may locate your Snapchat account by entering your phone number.
If you are concerned about your privacy, you should disable adding your account as a friend via the phone number option. If you use your personal phone number for business or have it publicized anyplace online, turning it off might protect you from unwelcome persons adding you as a friend.
Use The “My Eyes Only” Feature on Snapchat to Keep Your Photos Safe
My Eyes Only feature of Snapchat helps keep your Snaps extra private. You can move your Snaps and Stories saved in Memories to My Eyes Only. You won’t be able to see them until you enter your passcode. Follow these steps to set up My Eyes Only for the first time:
- To access Memories, swipe up from the camera screen.
- Tap ‘My Eyes Only’ after pressing and holding on a Snap.
- Tap’ Quick Setup’.
- Make a password.
- It will be your new passcode, and it will be the only method for you to get into My Eyes Only. If you don’t want to use a four-digit passcode, you can use a combination of letters and numbers instead. At the bottom, tap ‘Use Passphrase.’
- Tap the circle icon, then tap ‘Continue.’
- Finally, tap ‘Finish.’
Manage Snap Map
While Snap Map does sound like a cool feature where it shows your Avatar on the MapMap to your friends and pinpoints to your exact location, you should turn off the access to your location if you don’t want to jeopardize your privacy by Snapchat. Turning off the access will disallow anyone to know your location, thus keeping your privacy intact and keeping you safe from stalkers.
You can change your location sharing option to Ghost Mode, which means “only me.”
In Ghost Mode, no one else on the MapMap will be able to see your location. Your Bitmoji will hold up a blue sign with a ghost icon when you’re in Ghost Mode. You can toggle Ghost Mode on and off or set a timer if you only want to hide your location for a short period.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
To make your account more secure and diable hackers from breaching into your account:
- Use a strong password.
- Make your password at least eight characters long, and avoid using personal information such as your name, username, phone number, or birthday.
- In your password, use a combination of numbers, characters, uppercase, and lowercase letters.
- Don’t tell anyone your password, and don’t use the same one for another social media app or website.
Likewise, set up two-factor authentication. When you log into your Snapchat account, two-factor authentication is an optional security measure that verifies that it’s genuinely you. It improves the security of your account.
Use Parental Control Apps to Keep Your Child Safe on Snapchat
If you are worried that your kids are spending their time on the Snapchat app, you can monitor their Snapchat activities with parental control software. With parental control apps, you can limit your kid’s screen time, know who they are sharing Snaps with, their Snapchat messages, and their Snaps on the Memories.
There are various monitoring apps out there. However, the Snapchat monitoring feature of fenced.ai gives you a complete monitoring facility to watch over your kid’s every Snapchat activity, from limiting their screen time to monitoring their text messages. It helps you protect your kids and keeps them safe on Snapchat.
My Final Thoughts
Snapchat, like any other social media app, is a place to connect with new people and friends. What sets it apart is its unique features like Snaps, Snapstreak, Snap Map, which I have explained above. Regarding its safety concerns, like any other apps, Snapchat has its own fair share of dues.
So you should be alert enough to protect yourself or your kids on the Snapchat app. You can keep your account private by turning on the Ghost Mode, setting up two-factor authentication, disable adding your account as a friend via the phone number, using the ‘My Eyes Only’ feature, and using parental control apps to monitor your kids Snapchat activities if required.