Supervise this app......
The good: It's trendy, it's fun, it has cool filters, every uses it.
The bad: This app has disappearing pics...so you can imagine what an impulsive teen will post with the knowledge that their pic disappears several seconds later. The evil trick is that it doesn't truly disappear....kids can snapshot the pics (although apparently the poster can tell if this has been done) and the really savvy will simply pick up another device and take a picture of the picture. The consequences of making a mistake via snapchat are HUGE. Google Snapchat Sluts and you'll see that there are huge communities of very suave/convincing guys (aka PREDATORS) who sit around and try and convince girls to show a little or a lot on snapchat AND then post it online as some trophy. I highly doubt that they are the cute 16 year old boy (or girl) they make themselves out to be and your kid would never know it. Fake profiles are rampant AND someone may even have a fake profile pretending to be YOUR KID for that matter....but that's a whole other topic. That may be one of the more extreme examples of what can go wrong but it is much more common then parents would like to admit. A much more common snapchat oopsie would be for an ex boyfriend to send a topless pic of his ex to friends....for revenge. And how did the ex get the pic in the first place......it's not that difficult to stay up late whsipering sweet nothings into a girls ear and coax out a pic....TRUST ME....especially when sexting is SO COMMON and it is. Principals are getting sick of dealing with this BS sexting crap and potential lawsuits that they don't even touch it anymore.....parents and police are called to sort out the mess and EVERYONE is called in....the poor girl who took the pic, the boy who sent it, everyone who received it, everyone who passed it on which leads to not only HUGE embarrassment but potential child pornography charges. Yes, a child can be charged with distributing child porn and this can be considered child porn. Passing on pics, taking naked pics of yourself and passing it on....is distribution. Imagine your 13 year old boy having to talk to a police officer and register as a sex offender (which in some states this occurs for sending child porn). Imagine your 13 year old girl having to go back to school after her topless pic went viral overnight. This is when the bullying and suicidal thoughts come in.
I don't want to freak you out but there are far too many ways to mess up on snapchat for teens and all the ways involve public humiliation. All teens make mistakes but parents of today should do everything to avoid the life changing, public mess-up's that apps like this lead to.
If you want to let your teen "play" with this app then keep it on a family ipad that is not permitted to leave public areas (no taking in bedrooms or bathrooms) and for the love of GOD not on their own device until you can honestly trust them to make safe decisions. Don't stick your head in the sand and think your kids won't do anything wrong on here......it honestly would be hard not to bc they all are doing some level of acting out on snapchat. Just this morning my sons classmate sent a sweet Happy Bday note via snapchat....the background pic was an upclose pic of him in sweatpants with the outline of a certain body part pretty visible through the pants. Knowing this kid, I think he thought it was funny.....but I'm sure his parents would not find the humor. And as a parent of teen girls too...I totally resent the sexual suggestiveness that is made so publicly. It's creating a very strange sexual culture where sexual boundaries are all confusing...where does one draw the line?
UNFORTUNATELY...this is exactly the type of garbage that our teens need to master bc they are inundated with it. So I wouldn't say just never let them have access to it. I would suggest....keep it on a public ipad or device at first and supervise it heavily nd plan to have discussions about boundaries and privacy. Then if they earn having it on their own device...check up on it frequently, never let them have private passwords and assume that they will be making mistakes that you will need to provide clean up for. Or you could just keep your fingers crossed and and hope that your teen will be in the .01% of teens that doesn't make mistakes online. And don't forget that making a mistake doesn't just mean your kid sent a pic....it also means requesting a pic, simply viewing a pic after it was sent to them, commenting on a pic, or in some schools simply seeing and failing to report something posted (sexual, racial, alcohol or drugs etc). Bottom line, this app is not for LAZY parents unless you want to be a bad parent too. Letting your kid use this app if your a good parent will also mean dedicating several HOURS a week at first to discussing it. Good luck.
PS: Oh....and I was a previous don't invade their privacy parent....now I'm the exact opposite. These are KIDS, they make mistakes. If you don't invade their privacy you will never know about it and they will continue to make mistakes. It all very quickly spirals out of control when a mistake is made and you need to be the FIRST person to catch it. So I'd say try not to needlessly invade privacy....like read conversations obviously mundane. But spyware...sorry kids......YES. Parents you MUST do it and I kept it hidden until they made a mistake and then I told them I had it and it was staying on. The temptation to keep making the mistake was too high and they agreed to the spyware as opposed to just not having any access to the app. An unknown effect to my installation of the spyware is that I see what all the other kids are posting and OH MY LORD what the heck do I do with that knowledge????????? That's my current dilemma...do I have the ethical obligation to tell other parents what their kids are posting...some oh which are my good friends???????? I honestly wish they would all just get with the program and supervise this BS app themselves bc I am heavily leaning towards NOT saying a darn thing to anyone....but in the mean time.....I am witnessing a TRAIN WRECK in slow motion. So there's a lesson for parents too on this....don't expect other parents to alert you. Also....Instagram also has disappearing pics and conversations now. Oovoo , Whisper (HORRIBLE), Houseparty are apps that should be heavily supervised too. Almost nothing happens via text these days....its all in the apps. So parents.....you need to have access to ALL the passwords.