Even when a parent investigates an app thoroughly before signing up their child, the approved app can morph into something else. Snapchat started out being a simple app to share a photo with a friend that vanished within 10 seconds. With the latest updates, Snapchat is becoming more than sharing a private, fleeting moment.
Over time, Snapchat has been adding new features. Teens can create Stories, a string of snaps (pictures) that lasts for 24 hours. Live Stories are compilations of Snaps collected by Snapchat from events around the world and shown to everyone for 24 hours. While these features extended the moment, the content eventually disappeared. With the new features, introduced on March 29, Snapchat is becoming an all in one messaging app where conversations can live on.
Introducing Snapchat 2.0
When Snapchat first launched, teens would send a message to a friend by drawing it on the picture. These messages were short and one had to wait for their friend to open it and respond. This made it hard to carry on a conversation in real time.
As Snapchat has evolved, it is making it easier for teens to communicate. With Snapchat 2.0, teens can share not only pictures with messages; they can make voice calls, video calls and send audio and video messages within Snapchat. This latest round of new features moves Snapchat into the world of messaging apps like Kik, Facebook Messenger and Skype.
Messaging apps are popular with teenagers. Pew Internet found one third (33%) of teens with cell phones use messaging apps like Kik or WhatsApp and 47% of teens talk with others over video connections such as Skype, Oovoo, Facetime and Omegle. Right now, teens are using many apps to communicate with their friends: a selfie on Instagram, a message on Kik and a study session on Facebook messenger. With Snapchat’s new features, teens may never have to leave Snapchat to share with their friends.
Tips for Keeping Snapchat Private
If a teen is on Snapchat, parents should talk with them about messaging and chatting online. While they may feel like they are talking with their friend, a private conversation can easily become public. Friends can take screenshots of photos and messages. Snippets from ongoing conversations can and do appear on public social networks.
Teens can try to manage their account by changing their privacy settings and reporting behavior that violates Snapchat’s Community Guidelines.
- Change who can send you snaps from “everyone to “my friends”. Accounts are initially set that anyone on Snapchat can send you a snap. By selecting “my friends”, only the people you added as a friend can send a sap.
- Change who can see your Stories from “everyone” to “my friends” or choose “custom” to block specific friends from viewing your story.
- Block friends who are harassing or sending inappropriate snaps or messages. Blocked friends cannot view your stories or send pictures or messages.
- Report content and behavior that violates Snapchat’s Community Guidelines such as nudity, harassment, bullying and impersonation.
Monitoring Teens on Snapchat
When I first started talking to families, kids typically did not receive a smartphone until high school. With smartphones becoming cheaper and kids receiving hand me down phones, a smartphone is becoming the first phone. Having a smartphone earlier, kids are also jumping on to social networks earlier. Snapchat is no longer reserved for older teens. Kids in middle school/junior high are jumping on Snapchat.
With all the new features, parents may want to take a second look. Given how hard it is to monitor, Snapchat is a challenge for parents. Snapchat 2.0 provides numerous ways for kids to talk with their friends. Without some oversight, parents will find it difficult to mentor and guide their child as they learn about communicating in the digital world.
Familoop Safeguard can help parents guide their child. If they are on Snapchat, while parents cannot see every snap and message, Familoop Safeguard does collect and save all the pictures and screenshots in their gallery. If a child is not ready for Snapchat, parents can choose to block it with Familoop Safeguard. Once a child is older, they can allow the app. If they are spending too much time snapchatting, parents can create a digital time out with Familoop Safeguard.