Snapchat - how bad can it be?

Posted On Mar 01, 2022 |

A summary of why Snapchat should be avoided by young children and teens.


Snapchat is one of the most popular apps used by teens today and is nearly impossible to monitor. This is an app I detest, and is one app your children should avoid for as long as possible because of the inappropriate content commonly shared, some of which I have seen. This includes:- 

  • Sexting
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Drug and vape sales
  • Physical violence among peers- 
  • Provocative photos of girls and boys scantily clad- 
  • Bragging about shop lifting, otherwise referred to as ‘racking’


— some of these include teens IN school uniform.


In addition, it took me less than 5 minutes to find pornography advertisements.


Much of this appears on Snapchat Stories. These disappear after 24 hours and perhaps provide a ‘false sense of security’ as most users know a person is 'notified' if a screenshot is taken of their story. This does not, however, prevent someone taking a photo of the 'story' with another phone or using screen record.


If we bear in mind that by the later years of high school, it is not uncommon for teens to have well over 1000 ‘friends’, this means that a significant number of teens get may see the material shared.


Further concerns with this app include:

My Eyes Only

This is one of the most concerning features of this app. My Eyes Only, according to the Snapchat support page is, ‘for Snaps that you want to keep extra private’ and can only be accessed with a passcode. Snaps and Stories can be moved from the ‘Memories’ tab to the ‘My Eyes Only’ tab, at which point a passcode is required to access them. To view ‘My Eyes Only’, swipe up from the camera screen to open 'Memories', then swipe left to the ‘My Eyes Only’ tab. I would advise parents whose children have this app to check if this function is active on their child's device. From experience, most content that is hidden is either detrimental to their wellbeing or illegal.

Snapstreaks

This is a cleverly designed tool within the app which maximises the time a user spends on the platform. Snapstreaks are designed to measure “friendships” within the app. To keep Snapstreaks tallying up, streaks need to have been exchanged within 24 hours. The more ‘friends’, the more time spent ‘streaking’. This encourages compulsive use, and this measure of ‘friendship’ becomes so crucial for teens that they don’t hesitate to share their account password with others on occasions when they themselves are unable to to keep their ‘streaks’ going. An example I’ve seen is:

“phone confiscated — Jake has my password and is doing my streaks.”

A tally is kept of the Snapstreaks. 

🔥

Once a fire symbol appears next to a friend’s name, it signifies that the user has snapped (not chatted) with the friend within 24 hours for over 3 consecutive days. After this period, a number appears next to the fire symbol, e.g., 10 — this signifies that the user and their friend have 'Snapped' (not chatted) back and forth for 10 days. And this continues…..

Snapmap

This concerning feature allows the user to share their location with others. They can choose to share with:

  • select ‘friends’,
  • the public or
  • no one (ghost mode)

Most teens share with ‘friends’ - many of them! As the user can see if someone is sharing their location, there is the risk of exclusion - this alone can have devastating results, which unfortunately we have seen firsthand at our psychiatric practice.

Should the user share their location publicly, this creates a far more problematic risk for the teen. The Friends Tray makes it easy to find your friends and see their recent activity, along with other public Stories from around the world.

One very concerning feature is the fact that you can also view Snap Map on the web! I only briefly had a look and in the space of 5 minutes could see a couple of young kids AND exactly where they were located.

My advice? 

In my opinion, this app should be rated 18+ and I would urge parents to be cautious before allowing their teens to use it.