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What is Snapchat? An app review for parents

What is Snapchat? An app review for parents

Snapchat is a popular social media platform for both youth and adults. It is so popular it is reported that Facebook tried to purchase Snapchat for an estimated $3 billion dollars. Snapchat declined the offer. Since then Facebook has created a similar application called Slingshot. We will review Slingshot in a future post. I encourage all parents to talk with their children about online safety often and to review the applications on their devices at least every week. Snapchat is free and available in iOS and Android devices.

What is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a social media platform that allows it’s users to share messages, images and video to other people. The images are viewable to others for 10 seconds. After the viewer sees the message it is deleted and no longer available. Snapchat also allows people to create and share a Story where the item can be viewed multiple times by others for a 24 hour period. There is a private chat option as well. The chat option also allows live broadcast of video and audio while chatting. In essence, the app focuses on sharing what the company calls, “moments” with people where the items are deleted after being viewed. Snapchat continues to grow and add on to it’s offerings. In 2014, Snapchat partnered with Square to allow users to send money to each other through the application. Snapchat is also becoming popular for original content. The first original series on Snapchat are co-produced by the daughter of film director Steven Spielberg and John Goldwyn who comes from a family in the film industry. Their show, Literally Can’t Even, appears on the Snap Channel and runs approximately 5 minutes. Viewers can only watch the series for a set amount of time before the episode is deleted. The premise for everyday users is that you can share things without having that item on the internet forever or on a device taking up valuable memory. Despite this idea of deleting a “snap” users should be aware that according to Snapchat’s terms of use agreement, all items shared on their platform become their property and they own the royalty rights. Read their terms us use agreement for more details.

Problems: Sexting, sexting Lingo and the illusion of deletion

Parents should be aware that sexting with this application is popular. Sending private messages with the application makes it difficult for parents to monitor what is being shared because the items disappear before a parent can properly review them. Users have also created lingo to help them communicate through the app that may have most parents scratching their heads. Here is a brief list of what numbers and symbols may mean to give you an idea of what to watch for if your child uses this app.

  1. MOS- Mom Over Shoulder
  2. 8 – Oral Sex
  3. 9 – Parent Watching
  4. 99 – Parent Gone
  5. CD9 – Parents Are Around
  6. GNOC – Get Naked On Cam
  7. LMIRL – Let’s Meet In Real Life
  8. TDTM – Talk Dirty To Me
  9. NIFOC – Nude In Front Of Computer
  10. PAW – Parents Are Watching
  11. PAL – Parents Are Listening

The application guarantees deletion of the “snap” however anyone can take a screenshot of an item. Snapchat has made it more difficult by providing notification to the user that someone took a screenshot of the item, however, there are hacks available online that allow people to save snapchat conversations, videos and images without notifying the user. Nothing online is completely deleted. Children need to understand this principle when dealing with items over social media.

I gave the social media application a 3-star rating. Largely the app is used for appropriate reasons. There is a growing amount of young adults who use the application to share moments of their lives without problems or concerns.

Parental concerns

  • Possible sexting.
  • Deletion of items before parents can review what is being shared.
  • Private communications that may be inappropriate and even illegal.
  • The nature of the app makes monitoring very difficult.

Safety begins at home

Parents should consider implementing the following rules related to electronic devices:

    1. The ability to review phones or devices that have apps at any time.
    2. The understanding that parents can delete or take away applications that are inappropriate.
    3. A Monthly review of online safety practices.
    4. Appropriate time limits for children using devices.

If you find that your child is using Snapchat, please talk to them. Use the skill of Effective Communication to set some rules and expectations about social media etiquette. You can also use the skill of Decision Making to help your children know how to make better decisions regarding their social media use and what to do if they encounter something inappropriate.

Parents should be very cautious of their children using this application and talk to them often about online safety.

Smarter Parenting release a new review of apps for parents every Monday morning. Register with us on this website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.