Parent guide to Snapchat

Ever heard of Snapchat? If your children aren’t using it yet they most probably will soon: Snapchat is the new extremely rapidly growing social media.

Teenagers, the social media trendsetters, have been using Snapchat for ages, and currently it’s becoming more and more mainstream. For instance in the U.S., teens and young adults use Snapchat almost as much as Instagram. We here at watAgame can clearly see this trend on our social media services Momio and goSupermodel.

Despite of its age limit of 18, loads of minors use Snapchat. Teens between 13 and 17 are allowed there with a parental permission, and as it even says in Snapchat’s parent guide, you can always use a fictional birth date when signing up.

What should parents be aware of when their kids download Snapchat? We started using it to figure it out. Here are the main findings.


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Snaps get auto-deleted –
screenshot still possible

In a nutshell, Snapchat is for sharing instant pictures and videos and chatting. In the chat section, even a video chat is possible.

Contrary to many other social media services, pictures and videos are not saved. They are visible only a few seconds and then get automatically deleted. Due to this temporary nature, it can feel tempting to share potentially risky content, such as nudity, on Snapchat.

Snapchat however states, referring to a study, that most grown-ups use the service for fun and that sending naked pictures isn’t very common.

Even though snaps disappear, the receivers can take screenshots of them. If that happens, you’ll get a notification. However, there are ways to go around the notification by using a third-party app or simply using another camera. Therefore the normal rules for social media apply on Snapchat too.

Easy to push wrong button

In addition to quickly disappearing snaps, a user can choose to create stories that are viewable 24 hours before an auto-deletion.

Here the user should be careful since it’s very easy to choose to share a private snap as a story by mistake.

Can be used anonymously

Snapchat can be used anonymously, and there are no profiles as on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The users can’t for instance see each other’s real names unless they are saved as contacts in the phone book. Also, since snaps get automatically deleted, there are no pictures or videos saved in profiles either.

To find friends, you can let Snapchat access your phone contacts. Otherwise finding people without knowing their exact usernames is almost impossible. By default, only users on your friends list can send you snaps and view your stories.

Why use Snapchat?

Snapchat also has a kids’ version that allows taking snaps but not sharing them. The lack of sharing has according to bloggers prevented SnapKidz from becoming widely popular.

Somewhat impulsive sharing and the auto-deletion function seem to be the features that make Snapchat popular. We asked a few people why they love Snapchat.

 On Snapchat, I post less interesting stuff that I wouldn’t put on Facebook.
Julia, 20

“On Snapchat I post to my friends. In case I want my grandparents to see it, I post on Facebook.”
Oscar, 21

”It’s much more fun than sending a text message.”
Isabelle, 29

”When I get a snap, I treat it as a rare gift. I don’t watch it until I’m somewhere alone where I can really concentrate on what I see since it’s gonna disappear immediately after that.”
Maria, 35

About the author:

Pia Edman, watAgame

Pia Edman worked as a Finnish Community Manager at watAgame from 2009 to 2015. She has several years of experience in working with online communities and online safety as well as with digital content creation and digital advertising. Pia has a master’s degree in Finnish language.