What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Snapchat is a popular messaging app that allows teens to exchange user-generated photos, texts, videos, and calls -- both audio and video. 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
- multiple forms of expression
- digital creation
- social media
What Kids Can Learn
Snapchat wasn’t created with educational intent, and we don't recommend it for learning.
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. Also, users can call each other using video or just audio and can include short video "notes" in chat. 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.