Send moments in photos, watch curated content; use wisely.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

What parents need to know

Ease of play

Snapchat is extremely easy to set up and use. Users create a unique Snapchat account and add friends by linking to their phone’s address book, connecting to Facebook, or entering specific Snapchat usernames. To send a message, users snap a picture with the in-app camera (or type a text message), set the length of time the photo will display, select recipients, and send. Users can see a list of sent and received messages and can see if messages were opened. In addition, users who are using the app at the same time can initiate a private teleconference.


Teens and other users can send and receive unmonitored photos, texts, and videos. News footage in Discover sometimes features disturbing video content, such as a bomb exploding in a house. 


Teens and other users can send and receive unmonitored photos, texts, and videos. Some of the Discover content also is sexually suggestive in nature. 


Teens and other users can send and receive unmonitored photos, texts, and videos. The content in Discover is not monitored, and it's not unusual to see words such as "f--k" or "s--t." 


Snapchat encourages users to invite friends and contacts to download the app and sign up for an account. Users can only send Snapchat photos, texts, and videos to others using the service. A new service, called Discover, also lets brands including Food Network, CNN, and Warner Music promote their content, which sometimes includes new films or music, and users can pay for replays of Snaps via in-app purchase.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

There is no content related to drinking, drugs, or smoking in the app itself, but teens can send and receive unmonitored photos.

Privacy & safety

Requires users to create a username and password, with the option to provide mobile number, email address, and Facebook ID to find friends. Snapchat doesn't gather or publish users' location information. Says pictures are deleted after one to 10 seconds, but privacy policy states it doesn't guarantee all images will be deleted from its servers. Though the app notifies the sender if a recipient takes a screenshot of an image, recipient could easily use a second device or third-party program to capture the sent image, and the sender would not receive an alert. There are links in the app to Snapchat's public Facebook and Twitter pages, which teens could use to distribute their usernames to strangers. Teens can receive a Snapchat message from anyone who knows their usernames. The Snapchat privacy policy allows minors age 13 and up to use the app with parental consent. If users contribute to Our Story, a channel with Snapchat-curated user content, their Snap might appear to a very wide audience.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Snapchat is a popular messaging app that allows teens to exchange user-generated photos, texts, and videos -- as well as to use live video chat. The developer claims that "Snaps" can't be saved within the app and are only viewable for one to 10 seconds before disappearing from the recipient's device, noting that the app notifies the sender if the recipient takes a screenshot of an image. However, several third-party programs easily intercept and store any Snaps sent to the user, and users can buy replays of Snaps via in-app purchase, negating the "temporary" aspect of the service. The app has gained a reputation as a "sexting" app because outgoing (and incoming) pictures, videos, and texts are not stored on devices, but many teens use it simply to exchange fun, silly pictures. In addition, a video feature called Discover has curated content from outlets including CNN, Cosmopolitan, Warner Music, and Vice. The Discover content (which disappears after 24 hours, a much longer window than for other content) often features harsh language, violence, advertisements, or videos with, for instance, a character flipping viewers "the bird," and there is no option to opt out.

What kids can learn



  • photography



  • multiple forms of expression

Tech Skills

  • digital creation
  • social media

What Kids Can Learn

Snapchat wasn’t created with educational intent, and we don't recommend it for learning.

What kids can learn



  • photography



  • multiple forms of expression

Tech Skills

  • digital creation
  • social media

Snapchat wasn’t created with educational intent, and we don't recommend it for learning.

This Learning Rating review was written by Erin Wilkey Oh

What's it about?

SNAPCHAT is a photo-messaging app that allows users to put a time limit on a sent picture, text, or video so the recipient can see it for only a few seconds before it disappears, though replays are available for purchase via in-app transactions. Users can add friends from their device's address book and Facebook friends list, or they can enter specific usernames. To send a picture, users take a snapshot using the in-app camera, set a time limit, select recipients, and send. By tapping and holding their own image in the selfie cam, teens enable facial-recognition software that allows them to add animated effects to their sefies. Videos are captured by continuously pressing the on-screen shutter, and texts are typed. Users have a Snapchat mailbox, where they can see a list of sent and received messages. In addition, users can live-chat with others if they're online at the same time and know each other's username. The Discover area of the app has daily content from 12 outlets, which changes every day. Viewers get a short video preview and can swipe down to watch or read more, swipe right to see the next story (each outlet files 10 per day), or swipe up to exit that provider's options. You also can contribute to Our Story; if your Snap is chosen, it might be included in a curated collection available to all users.

Is it any good?


Though Snapchat might have (at one time) sounded like a great way to control images, videos, and texts shared with friends, trusting the app with that information is not a wise bet. As soon as the app became a hit among users, third-party apps popped up to destroy the illusion of a fleeting thought that disappears once viewed. As with any media-sharing tool, users should be cautious and thoughtful about which images they send with Snapchat. The seemingly risk-free messaging might encourage users to share pictures containing sexual, violent, or illegal content.

Users can receive updates in Snapchat from anyone who knows their usernames, so teens using Snapchat will need to be careful not to share their usernames in public forums. Users also can chat with anyone who knows their usernames in real time, if the two are using the app at the same time. The recently added Discover feature keeps avid users up to date on current news and pop culture events, but it features some inappropriate videos and language, as well as advertising hidden in the form of updates. View our video The Truth About Sexting for more ways to talk to your teen about safe messaging practices.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the long-term effects of sharing what are assumed to be private moments. 

  • Parents also can remind kids that nothing, once posted to the Internet, ever really goes away -- and it can come back to haunt them.

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
Pricing structure:Free
Release date:September 26, 2011
Category:Photo & Video
Size:2.70 MB
Publisher:Toyopa Group, LLC
Minimum software requirements:iOS 4.0 or later; Android 2.2 and up

This review of Snapchat was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 12 years old January 4, 2013

Use Wisely.

While using snapchat, a person can take a picture, put a timer on it, (to make it visible for a certain amount of time: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, or 10 seconds) and then you can add a note if you want and then can send it to anyone if you have their snapchat username. Parents would want to be careful to let their child use this app, because there is the possibility of a kid taking innapropriate pictures or adding bad language to the pictures, and the parent would never know because the picture disappears in seconds and you can never find it again. I use it with my friends just for fun, and my parents trust me with what I do with it, and they occasionally look at the pictures my friends send me.
What other families should know
Great messages
Safety and privacy concerns
Parent of a 12 and 14 year old Written bymom0125 November 5, 2012

Age should be younger.

i thought my kids finally found a social media site to express herself! Much better and safer than any other social media
What other families should know
Great messages
Parent of a 6, 6, 9, and 11 year old Written byNH4x4Jeep February 12, 2013


Internet Rule #1: "Nothing is private online. Anything you say or do can be copied, pasted, and sent to gazillions of people without your permission." Google: "How to save photos from SnapChat" Need I say more? For more EXCELLENT information, see the "Digital citizenship" section of! =)
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Safety and privacy concerns


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