When is it safe for your children to start exploring social media apps? Many apps originally aimed at adults or older teenagers have begun to attract younger audiences. SnapChat is a prime example. Though originally made for adults, children as young as nine years old find SnapChat accessible and fun. But is it safe for them to use? Here’s what you need to know about children and pre-teens and their safety on SnapChat.
How Does It Work?
SnapChat photos are fun, but temporary.
SnapChat is a photo and video sharing app that allows users to take pictures and share them with their friends. They can also digitally draw on their pictures and add captions to them. However, the thing that makes SnapChat stand out from other similar photo sharing apps is that the pictures sent on SnapChat aren’t supposed to last. Pictures disappear a few seconds after a user views them.
Whether or not this is a good thing is a matter of perspective. On the one hand, kids can’t save an embarrassing photo of another child to use against them — at least in theory. The picture is supposed to disappear, after all. On the other hand, because the pictures disappear, you won’t necessarily have evidence of bullying or inappropriate photos if someone sends them to your child. Disappearing photos may make it easier for kids to get away with risky or bullying behavior without detection.
Then there’s the question of whether or not the photos truly do disappear. They are supposed to, but the adage that nothing on the internet can ever be deleted completely applies to SnapChat as well. There are ways for users to save pictures sent to them, such as taking a screenshot of their device before the picture disappears. This creates the possibility of an embarrassing photo coming back to haunt your child if the friend they shared it with turns out to be untrustworthy.
Who Is Old Enough for SnapChat?
You may be happier letting your child use an app aimed at their age group.
According to SnapChat’s own Terms of Service, users are supposed to be age 13 or up, and users under 18 have to verify that they’re using the app with a parent’s permission. That means that technically, nine-year-olds shouldn’t be using SnapChat at all. There is an alternative app for younger children called SnapKidz, which allows younger users to take photos, draw on them, and create captions, but it doesn’t allow the user to send or receive photos.
You may prefer to steer your child toward the children’s version of the app. But realistically, it’s impossible for the app to prevent children under 13 from using it entirely, and some parents will feel that their child is mature enough. If you’re okay with your child using SnapChat, there are some rules you should keep in mind.
If you’re going to allow your child to use SnapChat, make sure that in their settings, you specify that they can only send to and receive from people in their contacts list, not strangers. Then make sure that their contacts list only contains people of whom you approve. Finally, you should check your child’s settings and contacts periodically to ensure that nothing has changed and that your child hasn’t added anyone that you don’t know.
Parental monitoring software can help you keep an eye on your child’s use of apps like SnapChat. To find out how monitoring software can help you keep your child safer online, get our free trial.