A Parent’s Thoughts on Snapchat

a parent's thoughts on snapchat.

Snapchat.  What is Snapchat?  If you’re like most people in their thirties (a’hem, me), you may not have heard of Snapchat yet or you’ve heard just enough to wonder what it is really all about.   So today, I’m sharing my thoughts on Snapchat:  the basics, what I like and don’t like about it as a parent and user.

What is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a free app that allows you to share pictures and videos.  Like other social media outlets, you have “friends” to connect with.  But the difference is that the image you share dissolves after a selected period of time (usually 10 seconds).

With each image, you have the option of adding one line of text (plus some scribble) and then send to some or all of your friends.  If you receive a snapchat and want to respond, you need to snap a picture of yourself, add your one line of text and send.

For example, I snapped a picture of Dan trying on the ugliest basketball shoes you can imagine and sent it to my nieces and nephews.  One of the girls responded back, snapping a picture of herself with an skeptical look and saying that her brother would probably love them.

Why I Joined

It was Black Friday and as you may remember, we play games and shop all night with our older nieces and nephews (ages 13-21).  Many of them were going on about how much they like Snapchat, so what else is a cool aunt to do?  Download it to my phone while waiting in one of the long electronic lines at Walmart.  For me, it was about connecting with my nieces and nephews.

What I Like

Snapchat is fun and different.  You get that Ethan Hunt feeling knowing you only have 10 seconds until that picture disappears.  Remember Mission Impossible?

Just like other social media outlets, it allows you to connect with people at a distance.  I can snapchat my niece away at college and stay in touch.

how snapchat works.

What I Don’t Like

From what I understand, the app was originally used to send provocative images.  Remember how the pictures “disappear?”  I find that very disappointing, but know that just like the internet in general, you can use it for good or bad.  It is on the user.

The picture DOES NOT ACTUALLY DISAPPEAR.  It is saved on phone company servers, Snapchat’s servers and according to Adam McLane, author of A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Social Media: Helping Your Teenager Navigate Life Online, it actually remains on the phone, just saved under a different file name once viewed.

I am not thrilled with Snapchat’s terms of service and privacy policy.  Read Adam McLane’s post on Why You Should Delete Snapchat.  Snapchat stores information about you and your photos and has the right to sell.  I don’t like that one at all!  Adam encourages the use of Instagram and texting a photo as safer than Snapchat.

What I Want My Kids To Know

Be Responsible.  Nothing ever really and truly disappears.  The internet is an incredible avenue for over-sharing.  Watch what you tell the world about where you live, where you are at the moment, when you’re going on vacation and details about your private life.

Be smart.  Be kind.  Think about what you are posting.  One day, your future employer will search your name on the web and with the way authorship is going, they may see quite a bit more about you than you thought possible.

For Snapchat and the photos you share, know that the recipient is able to save the screen shot of your image on their smart phone (that is how my niece saved the images from above).  One nice feature in Snapchat is that the sender is notified if the recipient takes that screen shot.

The internet isn’t the real world.  Don’t forget to connect with people in other ways too.  Your generation has grown up with life “on screen.”  Don’t forget about the value of face to face friendships.   

Create Healthy Boundaries.  Whether we’re talking Snapchat, other apps or general phone use.  You shouldn’t be on your phone all the time!  Set it down and connect with the people across the table from you.  Our house rule is “No cell phones at the table.”  (Obviously, this applies to Dan and I since our kids are young and very far away from owning their own cell phone.  Yep, very far.)

So there you have it.  Snapchat:  a fun app, but a little scary on security.

 What are your thoughts?  Have you used Snapchat?  


  1. Thanks so much for mentioning my post.

    I think the biggest thing I don’t see from parents that we really need to see is helping all social media apps age-gate. Every day someone asks me… “Should I let my 10 year old have a Snapchat account?” (Or Instagram, Twitter, Kik, etc.)

    The answer is simple: No. It’s against federal law for any social media site/app to knowingly have anyone under the age of 13 in their ecosystem. There are plenty of good reasons for this… you can read up on it at COPPA.org.

    • Adam, thanks so much for your comment! 10 (even 13) is so young to begin the added pressures of likes and friends on social media. Being a teen was hard enough when I was growing up, now add social media. Yikes!