What is Snapchat?
Snapchat is a mobile application that was developed to enable users to share pictures, chats, and videos with friends, watch live stories and explore news from all over the world with antidote concept to the “traditional” social networking, where images can stay around forever, and people have to worry about self-presentation. Snapchat app has a private messaging feature that allows users to send video, audio, or photos to one another privately and popular filters that enable users to create effects over photos/videos (called “Snaps”). Snapchat runs on the Apple iPhone and Android phones but it also runs on iPad, Android tablets and iPod Touch, which are often used by very young children.
The minimum age for Snapchat
The minimum age to use Snapchat is 13 years. Date of Birth is asked as soon as you download Snapchat app on your device, and if the inserted birthday date indicates that you are under the age of 13, then you are deemed unauthorised user.
How safe is the Snapchat for your children?
Young children and teens usually learn app updates faster than their parents which can lead to risky behavior because they could hide their behavior on such platform from their parents. As parents or educators, even if you were a Snapchatter, you will have to learn the new layout so you can keep kids and students safe on the app. The more you understand the apps they use, the more you can ensure they stay safe on social media. Content in the Discover feed (Stories from people you follow, publishers, verified celebrities, shows and the community) can be inappropriate for tweens and teens. To hide a Story on Discover just press and hold on a Story and tap “See less like this.”
Furthermore, due to its temporary nature, many teens might post riskier content on Snapchat than on other social networks. In June 2017, Snapchat introduced the “Snap Map“. This allows users to see Snapchats submitted to “Our Story” from all around the world, and the locations of other users. In February 2018 Snapchat brought Snap Map to the web. The web Map features stories shared publicly on the app, and don’t show user’s locations through their Actionmojis. Snapchat reviews all the shared stories before publishing them on the Map.
The latest study conducted by TRA Bahrain shows that more than 50% of young people in Bahrain (aged 12-18) use Snapchat. Thus, it is important to educate your child generally on safe ways to use the Snapchat app. And here are some tips to reduce the risks and let your kids enjoy the application safely:
- If you are concerned about the Snap Map feature, encourage your child to turn on “Ghost Mode”, which will hide their location. Explain that sharing location can be dangerous, especially if they have “friends” on the app that they may not know in person.
- Encourage your child to set their default setting to only accept content from “My Friends”.
- Encourage your child to only message and send pictures to their real friends that they know and trust.
- Always remind them to promptly inform you if they are being bullied, harassed, or notice anything suspicious.
- Teach them how to block a suspected friend’s account. To do this, they should: Go to their profile screen, go to “My Friends”, tap the name of the user they wish to block, tap the settings cog, and select “Block”.
- Encourage them to block non-friends accounts that initiated a chat with them. To do this, they should: Go to the chat screen and swipe left on the name of the user who chatted with them, tap the three horizontal blue lines, and select “Block”.
- Encourage them to block an unknown account that has tried to add them. To do this, they should: On the profile screen tap “Add Friends”, under “Added Me” tap the name, “Settings” and select “Block”.
- Teach your child how to report inappropriate and harassing content.
- To report a Story in an Our Story, Search, Map, Custom Story, or Group Story, press and hold on it the content until a “Flag” button appears in the bottom left corner.
- To report a Snap they have received, press and hold on that Snapchatter’s name right after you view the Snap, then press and hold again to bring up their profile. Then, tap the “Settings” button and tap ‘Report’ to reach out to Snapchat Support. https://support.snapchat.com/en-US/article/report-abuse-in-app
As parents or educators, you can help your kids and protect them from becoming victims of cyberbullying, and as a first step, it is very important to support the positive communication with your kids. Talk with them friendly and as open as possible, so you can, as a result, figure out what’s appropriate for them, in terms of safety, privacy, reputation and time management.
It is worth spending a few minutes to learn about what a parent can do to help keep your teens safer when they use Snapchat. Parents should make sure their kids are mature enough to use the app in fun yet a positive and safe way and to be able to take the appropriate actions against the harmful content or any intention to cyberbullying. Talking to your teens before allowing them to use Snapchat is a great start.
Once you have any doubts about any issue arose from using Snapchat and other social media apps, a good conversation and some quality time away may be all that your teen needs!