Kids love it. Parents are baffled by it.
There’s a lot to learn about this fascinating and sometimes-infuriating app, the top social media platform for teens today. But let’s start with a look at one of its most seductive features: the Snapstreak.
At age 28, Family Zone cyber expert Jordan Foster of ySafe is young enough to ‘get’ Snapchat. But as a child and adolescent psychologist, she is also a trained observer of the tricks the platform’s developers use to reel kids in - and keep them captive.
Foster is a regular speaker at schools across Australia. She finds kids are gobsmacked to learn that the social media platforms they love best - like Snapchat - are the ones that most successfully exploit their vulnerabilities.
Of course, Snapchat is about more than just snapstreaks.
The top social media platform for teens today, this photo-, video- and text-sharing app allows users to send time-limited images, or sequences of such images, called “stories,” to give a raw, backstage glimpse into a user’s private life.
Kids use Snapchat to send photos or videos that can only be accessed for only a few seconds until they self destruct. (The images that is - not the kids!) Snapchat stories last for 24 hours.
Snapchat's photo filters are a major attraction for child and teen users.
Kids can also private-message and make phone calls on Snapchat. But once a message has been opened, it is automatically deleted. This feature makes it impossible for parents to supervise discussions.
Snapchat is also an increasingly popular platform for “branded content” - which is a fancy way of saying “advertising” - for everything from fast food to film releases. It is also the world’s most popular app for sexting.
The age restriction is 13+, but there is no verification process when signing up.
Cyber experts like Jordan Foster agree that Snapchat is inappropriate for children and younger teens - but, as a parent, how do you keep your kids from getting snapped up? Family Zone allows parents to block entire categories of content (“social media,” e.g.) or a specific app like Snapchat.
Need help setting up your account? We're here to help! Just email firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact your school's IT specialist.