How to Protect Your Child from the Dangers of Snapchat

Even though Snapchat users are supposed to be protected from others saving their pictures or videos there is software out there that allows people to do exactly that.

This is why it’s so important for users to understand the potential consequences of using the app.  In a previous article we took a look at ways to hack Snapchat to keep tabs on what someone is sending and receiving.

In this article we’re going to take a look at the potential dangers your child faces when using this app, and what you can do to protect them.

The Dangers of Snapchat for Teens & Children

Snapchat was designed to be a fun way for people to communicate.  Of course there are those that would use it for nefarious purposes.  Here are just a few of the dangers your child might face when using this popular social media chat app.

The Myth of Disappearing “Snaps”

As an adult it’s easy to understand how these messages, images, and videos can cause significant harm, even if they are only “temporary”.  But this is lost on youth.

Some young users make the assumption that their “Snaps” are totally harmless as they disappear in just a few seconds.  The truth of the matter is that anyone can save a screenshot of a “Snap” to their phone.  What they do with it then is completely up to them.  And we know that children and teens lack a true understanding of the repercussions of their actions.  This opens the door to all sorts of issues including aforementioned predators, online bullying, and more.

Cyberbullying

We’ve all experienced bullying of one kind or another.  For most kids it’s a right of passage.  But now days cyberbullying has become a huge problem.  Unfortunately social media apps like Snapchat make it extremely easy.  Oftentimes a picture or video of a teen in a compromising situation will be used to haze or roast them.

While most teens would say this is all in good fun, there are studies that show this has a significant impact on the psyche of teens and young adults.

Sexting

Another popular use for Snapchat among teens is for “sexting”.  What is sexting?  It started out as flirtatious conversations over SMS or other messaging apps.  But now it even includes sending your love interest, girlfriend or boyfriend a revealing picture.  Of course the idea with Snapchat is that once the pic or video is viewed that it will disappear. This is a popular form of cheating among adults.

But there are apps out there that allow you to capture these photos or videos.  In some cases this has ended with nude pictures or videos being posted to the internet.

Of course Snapchat absolves themselves of any responsibility when you first sign up and agree to the fine print in their terms of usage.  There are clear warnings that you must take complete responsibility for whatever you post.  Of course this means nothing to most teens and young adults, even if they were to read the guidelines at all.

The Worst Case Scenario

While it’s been long forgotten there was a hack of hundreds of thousands of Snapchat pictures and videos back in 2014.  Known as the “Snappening”, this leak contained child pornography, videos, and and images that teens had sent each other over the social media platform.  Talk about a parent’s worst nightmare!

What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Children

First and foremost it’s crucial for parents to understand that Snapchat should NOT be used by anyone under the age of 13.  In fact, his is part of Snapchat’s end user agreement.

For teens between the age of 13 and 17 their agreement requires a parent’s consent.  Of course kids will always find a way around these sorts of limitations.  There is a “kid friendly” version of Snapchat that doesn’t allow the sending or receiving of image files.

Have a Conversation with Your Children

Obviously children are not going to understand the full extent of the dangers of Snapchat usage.  For them it’s a fun way to communicate with friends that doesn’t require adult supervision.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a conversation with them about these dangers.  If they’re old enough to be using the app in the first place, they should at least grasp how it could be used against them.  But since kids rarely (if ever) consider the long term consequences of their actions, this should only be your first line of defense.

Setup the Snapchat App Yourself

If your child is going to be using Snapchat, here is a quick list of things you should do to help protect them.

  1. Change the app privacy settings by making sure that only “My Friends” can see your child’s posts and and send them pictures.  This will filter out strangers who prey on children through the platform.
  2. Have a conversation with your child to make sure they understand that even though messages are deleted after being sent, someone can still take a screen shot and save it to their phone.
  3. Install parental monitoring software package that allows you to see who they communicate with and what sort of images they are sending.

Some people might disagree with this last step, but monitoring software such as these smartphone spy applications allow you to ensure that your child isn’t doing something that endangers their reputation or even their life.

About the Author Jason Thompson

Jason is a work from home dad who has a passion for DIY projects, yard work, and SEC Football. His background is IT, but he's always fancied himself as a part-time ship welder, landscaper, and short order cook. During the week he can be found on his laptop 10 hours-a-day, but on the weekends he escapes to the local DIY Cave to play with REAL toys.  You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and can contact him via email.