Being a parent has always been tricky. It was tough enough before the invention of the internet and then the advancement of social media. Now you have to be tech-savvy, and of course, you have to know what Snapchat is.
But don’t worry: here we explain Snapchat functioning, outline the tools you’ll need to make sure your child is safe whilst using it, and ensure that you can always have an eye on what’s going on.
- 1 How Does Snapchat Works?
- 2 What Should You Know About Snapchat as a Parent?
- 3 What Are the Risks of Using Snapchat?
- 4 Why You Should Monitor Your Child’s Snapchat
- 5 Tips for Parents: How to Check Snapchat
- 6 How to Set up Snapchat Parental Controls
- 7 Restoring Snapchat Backup Files
- 8 Closing Thoughts for Parents: Is Snapchat Safe for Kids?
How Does Snapchat Works?
Once you’ve set up your Snapchat account (the steps required here are pretty the same as for other messengers), you communicate by taking a photo or video. The media is then sent to your friends or uploaded to your stories. You can set how long you want a particular photo or video to be visible, and then after this point, it disappears.
What Should You Know About Snapchat as a Parent?
Snapchat is popular amongst tweens and teens all over the world. It allows communication and expression with messages that disappear and hundreds of photo filters, which are so beloved by youth.
- Snapmap is a location-based feature which allows a user to see where all their friends are in real-time and shows their own location. It also shows newsworthy events going on all over the world.
- Snapstreaks are basically a record of how much you use the app. If your child and one of their friends send messages back and forth to each other regularly, then this is measured in the Snapstreak number given to their account.
- Your Snapchat story is a record of your last 24 hours. You’ll be aware of this sort of feature as it has been adopted by both Instagram and Facebook.
- Snapcode: You can add someone to your list of friends by taking a picture of their Snapcode, a QR code unique to each individual user.
- Discover is a collection of content from celebrities, advertisers, and organizations. Users subscribe to particular Discover feeds and can browse the content.
Snapchat Age Restrictions
Snapchat’s Terms of Service says that users should be 13 or over, but there are no checks on this, so putting in a fake birth year is all it takes for teens to sign up.
This means that, while Snapchat prevents under 18s from seeing inappropriate marketing content, if your child has signed up with a fake birth year, they may end up seeing material that is not suitable for them.
This is one of the reasons that monitoring your child’s Snapchat account could be necessary.
Why Do Teens Love Snapchat?
One of the biggest draws of this app for your teen is that they can post photos and videos and know that they will disappear. Snapchat’s filters, features, and ways to play around with your photos and videos, make it a fun way to mess around. The games and quizzes and the ability to gain followers add to its appeal. It’s no wonder that your child is probably snapping away right now.
What Are the Risks of Using Snapchat?
As wonderful as Snapchat might seem to your teens, it is not free of risk. There are quite a few concerns that you might have as a parent.
Finding People They Don’t Know
It’s super easy to find and add people you don’t know to your list of friends. These people can then see your snaps and stories, regardless of who they are. You might have a concern, as a parent, that these connections with unknown individuals open children up to risk.
Cyberbullying on the app is pretty easy. The myth of disappearing messages entices teens to say mean things about other people as they believe the evidence won’t stick around. If a child has become withdrawn or upset, you may want to find out if the app has anything to do with it.
The main draw of Snapchat, when it was launched, was that your messages and content would disappear after a time. You wouldn’t be able to recover it, it wouldn’t be saved, and no one could find it. This led to some indiscrete material being shared.
The problem is, that it isn’t actually the case. Photos and videos can be screenshotted and then saved on that individual’s device. You can also take a picture of the image on another phone, or use a third-party app to capture the image. All this results in children posting things in the mistaken understanding that they have some level of privacy, when in fact anyone can hold onto their images.
Teenagers can often use Snapchat to exchange inappropriate images of themselves. The aforementioned misconception that messages on the app cannot be retrieved or saved, has led some teens to post nude pictures that are then saved and shared, to their embarrassment.
These are all reasons why you may be particularly concerned about a child using the app and want to think about ways in which you can monitor your child’s use of Snapchat.
Why You Should Monitor Your Child’s Snapchat
Here are the possible Snapchat dangers why an ordinary parent might be concerned and worried about its usage:
Monitor Snapchat Stories for Sexting
The assumption that messages will disappear after a time could lead a teen to send x-rated messages or photos to their boyfriend or girlfriend. Messages can be saved and then shared without the owner’s consent, therefore you might want to monitor the target account.
Monitor Snapchat Stories for Narcotics & Alcohol
Snapchat Stories are an insight into what is going on in the lives of a child and their friends. You might be able to spot behaviors that are risky from monitoring the messages. In this case, the child’s safety is at stake, and you would be able to step in and help them if needed.
Monitor Snapchat Stories for Hate Speech
You might have concerns about the kind of material your child is viewing online, and even the sort of content they are creating themselves. Monitoring Stories can give you an insight into this, and mean that you are aware of hate speech coming from their friends or themselves.
Giving out Personal Information
Depending on the amount of information they have added to their profile, people would have access to the child’s name, age, perhaps even their school. It would be a good idea to monitor the child’s account to make sure that they aren’t sharing risky personal information, and perhaps speak to them about online privacy.
Snapchat Security Problems
Snapchat does have some security issues. The app can collect data from you without your permission. It is also possible for you to give your personal details to one of the thousands of fake accounts on the app (a result of the lack of checks when an account is set up).
Obviously, we have mentioned the location data your child would be giving up through SnapMaps. In addition, the Find Friends feature gives the app permission to access information such as phone numbers and names of contacts on your child’s phone when they look for people to add to their friend’s list.
Tips for Parents: How to Check Snapchat
Here are some basic tips for you to check your child’s Snapchat:
- Go to your child’s Snapchat profile and you will see a list of who is following them and who they are following. This will give you an idea of who is seeing their content.
- Download the app yourself and set up your own profile. Once you’ve added your child as a friend then you will be able to see what they post in their stories.
- Watch out! If you take a screenshot of their phone, they will receive a notification and know that someone is spying on them.
- Your child can block you from seeing their stories and you would not be aware of this.
How to Set up Snapchat Parental Controls
One of the easiest first steps to ensuring your child’s safety on Snapchat is to set up Snapchat Parental Controls. There are several things you can do to make your child’s account safer.
Make sure only your child’s friends can contact them
On the app’s home page, click on the little gear symbol in the corner: this is where you find all of the settings. Tap on “My Contacts” and then ensure that the option “My Friends” is selected.
If you want only your child’s friends to be able to see their Stories then you will need to click on “Who Can”, then “View My Story” and make sure that the “my Friends” option is checked.
Turn off suggested friends or subscriptions
In the same settings section, click on the “Quick Add” section and make sure that “See Me” is unchecked. This will mean that your child’s page won’t be suggested to other users. It also means that your child won’t have suggestions for subscriptions or friends flagged up for them.
Prevent friends from seeing your child’s location
If you have concerns about the location aspect of the app, then you can turn off this feature. In the Settings menu, click on “See My Location” and make sure that you have selected “Ghost Mode”. This means that your child will be able to see the location of other users, but that their location remains private.
Set Up Snapchat Parental Controls on Your Kid’s Device
As well as the privacy controls on Snapchat itself, you can set up Parental Controls on your child’s mobile device.
Both Android and iOS offer parental controls. You will be able to do things like limit time spent on various apps.
Сan Snapchat Be Monitored by Parents?
There are a few ways that parents can monitor their child’s Snapchat if using Parental Controls on the child’s device doesn’t calm your fears.
Check Snapchat Online
If you are aware of your child’s log-in details for Snapchat, then you can check their account online. Go to the Snapchat website and enter the login details. You will then have access to their account.
Export Snapchat Chats
If you want to save a whole Story or a snap, then you can tap and hold on to what you want to save, tap on the header and then tap on save. This makes a copy of the data and saves it on your camera roll.
Download “My Data” from Snapchat
You can access the data associated with a Snapchat account from Snapchat directly. Here’s how from the Snapchat website:
- Log into the Snapchat account via accounts.snapchat.com,
- Select “My Data”.
- At the bottom of the page you’ll see a “Submit Request” button, tap this.
- Snapchat will then send you a download link to the email registered to the Snapchat account.
- Click on the link in the email,
- Click on the link on the page and download your information.
This gives you a history of all Snapchat messages.
Restoring Snapchat Backup Files
If you are concerned about whether some messages have been deleted, then you can take the next step of restoring backup files via iCloud. You will need to know your child’s iCloud login details and have access to their phone:
- Tap Settings – General – Reset – Erase all content and settings,
- Restart the device,
- Log in with your child’s details,
- On the Apps and Data screen click “Restore from iCloud”, and
- This will take you to their chat history
You can do a similar thing via iTunes:
- Connect the phone to a PC,
- Tap Phone icon – summary – restore a backup,
- Click on a Snapchat file,
- Click “Restore”, and
- Now you can view your child’s snaps.
Use a spy app to monitor your child’s Snapchat messages
Spy apps can be a useful alternative that gives you the ability to see messages and stories even when they’ve disappeared from your child’s feed.
With a spy app, you can:
- View your child’s snaps,
- access any messages that have been deleted,
- access all the messages your child has sent or received,
- and check the timestamps of messages.
How to Monitor Snapchat for Free
If you’re not ready to spend money on monitoring Snapchat, then some spy apps offer a free trial for you to try out the capabilities before purchase.
Hoverwatch offers all Android users a free trial for 3 days, which you can use to monitor Snapchat. The spy app enables you to capture screenshots, check messages, and use keylogging capabilities.
FlexiSPY also has a free trial and using the FlexiSPY for the Snapchat app you can monitor all messages, even if deleted and use its keylogger to see what your child is typing.
How to start monitoring your child Snapchat
If you want to monitor your child’s Snapchat account, then you can install mSpy to do so easily. Here’s how:
- Choose and pay for the subscription you need depending on what you want to monitor.
- Install the spy app on your child’s phone
- You can now monitor all activity on your child’s Snapchat account from the mSpy control panel on your own phone.
Closing Thoughts for Parents: Is Snapchat Safe for Kids?
Whatever social media apps your child uses, there are some risks involved, and some of Snapchat’s features can concern parents. With Parental Controls and conversations with your child about internet safety, you can mitigate some of these risks.
However, despite all the possible measures you can put in place through Snapchat itself, it is better to be able to monitor your child’s Snapchat account to make sure they are interacting safely. Spy apps can be a useful tool for parents who wish to do this. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.