Family Life


3 min Read

Web-savvy family: A chat with your kids about Snapchat

Snapchat has taken the tween and teen world by storm. If you haven’t heard about this app at your dinner table or from another parent, I’ve pulled together a quick summary for you about what you should know and the conversations you should be having with your children about this app.

What is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a photo and video sharing app for cell phones and tablets that allows users to send videos/photos to a select group of recipients for a controlled amount of time. Users set a time limit for how long recipients can view an image/video, up to 10 seconds, after which it will be deleted from the recipient’s device and the app’s server. In order to message someone on Snapchat, you need to know their username and add them to your “My Friends” list.

Who uses it?

The app’s main demographic are users between 13-25 years of age, however, we know kids ages 8-12 are frequent users. Snapchat is often used by kids to send pictures to their parents of their whereabouts and of course to send selfies, party pics, new outfits, hairstyles, etc. to their friends.

What’s the worry?

While Snapchat claims to delete data from the recipient’s phone and its server after 10 seconds or less, this doesn’t completely stop images and videos from being saved and shared. Recipients still have the opportunity to screen capture an image (although the sender will be notified) and software is now available to download the videos once received. Unfortunately this means that personal photos may be shared and viewed by those the sender never intended. This privacy loop hole has been recently featured in the media with coverage in Global News, The Globe and Mail and CBC.

Having the ‘Snapchat Chat’

Many teens assume the images they’re sharing will only be seen by a select number of people for a short period of time, so they may feel more comfortable sending more provocative photos or videos. This is also true in reverse as they may be receiving inappropriate ‘snaps’ from peers. It is important to explain to your kids that there is no guarantee the recipient won’t save their messages and share them with others. Be sure to discuss the risk of sending private content and encourage them to speak with you if someone is asking them to share photos or videos that make them feel uncomfortable. Or is sending them content that makes them feel uncomfortable.  For teenagers, I often hear from their parents that it is becoming more and more difficult to control their online actions, but despite what they think – they don’t always know best – and it’s up to us as parents to talk to them about online peer pressure, mobile safety and privacy.

a man carrying two children

Related Articles