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What Parents Need to Know about Snapchat

How to empower your kids to make safe choices online.

What Parents Need to Know about Snapchat
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It can feel scary when your teen declares that they want to use online platforms—especially if you’re not familiar with them. While the tech companies behind these platforms have a responsibility to create safe spaces for their users, parents play a critical role in shaping their teen’s use of technology. A popular platform for teens (13+) used for connecting with friends and loved ones, Snapchat prioritizes the safety and well-being of its growing community—and was built with privacy at its core.

With those priorities in mind, Snapchat rolled out an in-app tool called “Family Center” in 2022 to give parents and caretakers more insight into who their teens are communicating with on Snapchat while still respecting the teen’s privacy.

Jacqueline Beauchere, Global Head of Platform Safety at Snapchat, emphasizes the importance of educating teens about online safety, no matter which app a teen is using. “With so much of our lives spent online, it’s important for teens to feel equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to help them navigate the digital space safely and responsibly,” she says.

“Regular, open conversations with your teens about their online activity can help to foster safer and more enriching experiences online while also providing an open channel for teens to raise any challenges or concerns they might be facing. I’d also encourage parents, guardians and teachers to familiarize themselves with the key platforms their teens are using, including any reporting tools and parental controls like Snapchat’s Family Center,” says Beauchere.

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How to talk to kids about online safety

Foster open communication

Have open and honest conversations with your teens about online safety—and have them often so they know you have their back. Encourage them to share any concerns, questions or encounters they may have and let them know they can come to you if they have a problem. By fostering a trusting relationship and being as non-judgmental as possible, they'll be more likely to come to you for guidance if they encounter anything troubling.

Agree on boundaries

We all know teens don’t like to be told what to do, but agreeing on guidelines for internet, social media usage and screen time is important. Ensure they feel part of the decision-making process by asking what they think is appropriate and coming to a fair compromise. Having well-defined boundaries can help teenagers balance online activities with other aspects of their lives, fostering a healthy relationship with technology.

Educate them about privacy

Teach your teens the importance of safeguarding their personal information, particularly their devices and passwords. Help them understand the risks of sharing sensitive details online (such as their full name, address, school or other contact information). Discuss the potential consequences of oversharing on online platforms and the need to set strong privacy settings.

Encourage critical thinking

Urge your teenagers to be critical thinkers online. Help them recognize misinformation, scams and clickbait and discuss the importance of verifying information with credible sources. Encourage them to question content that seems too good to be true or overly sensationalized.

Use parental controls

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Take advantage of parental control tools and in-app features such as Snapchat’s Family Center to help manage your teenagers' online activities. Tools like these let parents and guardians see who their teens are friends with and who they have been communicating with recently.

What Parents Need to Know about Snapchat

What parents need to know about Snapchat

What is Snapchat and how is it different from traditional social media?

Snapchat is a visual communications platform that was built to be safe, private—and an antidote to traditional social media. The app is not focused on popularity metrics, but instead focuses on fostering connections and authentic communication with friends. Plus, many of its built-in features aim to prevent contact with strangers, misinformation and harmful content from being shared.

It’s famously known for its disappearing (ephemeral) messaging, which is meant to mimic how real-life conversations happen. Snapchatters can also create and share content with their friends via the Stories feature. The app is also well known for its innovative AR Lenses, Snap Map, creative content offerings, and its digital avatar, Bitmoji.

There is no live streaming on Snapchat and all public content is moderated, helping prevent the spread of misinformation or harmful content.

What are the safety features of Snapchat?

  • Snapchat’s Family Center tools help parents and caregivers keep track of who their teens are communicating with on the platform, while still respecting their privacy.
  • This also includes Content Controls, which allow parents to limit the type of content their teens can watch on Snapchat, as well as moderation tools for My AI and visibility into their teens' privacy settings.
  • The app includes easy-to-use tools so users can report inappropriate content and there is a dedicated team that works around the clock to keep the community safe.
  • There are a number of protections in place that make it harder for young people to be contacted by strangers. For instance, teens need to have a mutual friend before they can start a chat with someone new, and Snapchatters under 18 cannot receive messages from, or see the stories of, people they have not deliberately added as a friend.
  • Teens under 18 don’t have public profiles; Snapchat has no public “friends” lists, and group chat sizes are limited (and not discoverable unless a teen is in the group).

How do parents get access to Snapchat’s parental tools?

Download Snapchat and sign up for an account—it’s always a good idea to understand how your teen’s favourite apps work. Then, get your teen’s Snapchat username and add them as a friend. Your teen has to accept your request in order for you to have a conversation. Search for Family Center using the search tool and once you’ve opened Family Center, invite your teen to join. They must opt-in to participate (which is why safety conversations are so important).

What is My AI and can I prevent my teen from using it?

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere, including Snapchat. The app’s chatbot can answer trivia questions, help users plan trips, pick out birthday gifts or even suggest recipes. But like any evolving AI tool, it may include biased, incorrect, harmful or misleading content. Users can send feedback about the responses they receive and parents can see if and how often their teens are using My AI. Parents can use the app’s Family Center to restrict their teen’s use of the feature.

What Parents Need to Know about Snapchat

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