Snapchat has become the selfie game changer and pretty much the go to app for tweens, teens and young adults. A person, 13+ can create a Snapchat account. Link at the bottom if you want to read the TOS.
Choose a lens – the flower crown, dog face and several other that change sometimes daily or are there almost all of the time. You can also choose not to use a lens. Line it up and snap your pic. Now you can choose to add text, draw on the image, add stickers – which include your Bitmoji if you link the account, add a URL link, and change the length of how long your Snapchat is visible – current choices are 1-10 seconds or infinity. In it’s infant stage, Snaps only lasted a few seconds and were gone forever. Receivers of snaps can still take a screenshot of your pic, so choose your photo content wisely. As in, no nekkid selfies. Speaking of nekkid selfies, when I was at that internet and online safety awareness talk I learned something. If your child is under the age of 18 and sends a nude pic of themselves to someone, they can actually be charged with, and possibly convicted of, distribution of child pornography. Yup. I mean it makes sense, it is a naked photo of minor being sent, but I’m sure the tweens and teens that do that aren’t expecting to get a knock on the door from local law enforcement. You will get a notification that the user took a screenshot, but outside of knowing about it, there isn’t any way to recall it. There are now ways to save your Snaps to your camera roll, friends to replay them or stories that will show the uploaded images posted for 24 hours.
There are several other features that make this app appealing to kids. They can have a text like conversation that will not save or leave evidence of on their device, unless they choose to save each line of conversation. Hint, most of them do. There is also a video chat option that will not leave evidence in their call history. One of the newest features is Snapmaps. This can be accessed by opening the app and pinching the screen. By default a user’s location is off. The settings icon in the upper right corner will give options for viewing. Melaina and I both have ours set to select friends – basically people IRL that we don’t mind knowing where we are. There are some fun things that will appear when a friend is travelling – showing them in a car; has their headphones plugged in – little music notes near their head; etc. You will also notice faint blue dots and small photo icons. Tapping on one of them will allow you to view videos uploaded by users to “Our Story”. I am thinking some kids don’t realize those are viewable by the public, because I have seen some questionable content on there LoL. The other area that could cause concern for parents allowing their child to have a Snapchat account would be the news and media snaps in the discover section of stories. I think some of the content is questionable even for 13+, but I watch them a few times a week to make sure there is nothing that needs to be brought up in conversation.
Also, for a fee of $5.99 and up you can create your own geo-fence filter – think birthdays, weddings, fundraisers, special events and any other occasion you think warrants them. I have done so from the app using stickers and text. There are also pre-made filters to choose from. If you decide to do one online, you can create an upload your own filter, although I am not aware of the pricing on that.
Alas, not all fun is gone in a snap. Let your kids know the rules and spell out specific consequences for breaking them. Losing social media access and the thought of losing their streaks usually works.
Snapchat terms of service https://www.snap.com/en-US/terms/
For more user info and tips http://www.snapptips.com/