“Hey, What’s Your Snap?”

If you have a teen in your house, you need to know about Snapchat. I’m not asking you to become an expert or download it yourself, but I do suggest that you be aware of it, even if your teen doesn’t use it. Both Middle Schoolers and High School students are active users. On average, users spend 49.5 minutes a day on Snapchat and send 34.1 messages a day.

Snapchat allows teens to connect with their fellow peers and others in their lives, but just like all social media and the internet, it can be dangerous if not used safely. Originally named Picaboo when it started in July 2011, it is the most popular social media network among teenagers, with Instagram and TikTok following closely. As of February 2021, there were 319 million users worldwide and 87.3 million users in the United States. More than half ‒ 53% of all internet users aged between 15 and 25 years use Snapchat. So, in summary, many people use Snapchat, including teenagers.

Since the invention of the phone, asking or having someone ask for your phone number was viewed as a huge victory. It meant that someone was interested in you and wanted to stay in contact. The other day, I was talking with a female teen who was upset and offended because a boy had asked for her number but not her “snap.” It turns out that he did not have Snapchat, which is why he did not inquire, but in her mind, it was an insult that he had only asked for her number. It amazed me how Snapchat has completely shifted cultural norms, and now asking for someone’s Snapchat was the norm.

Over the years, Snapchat has evolved in an attempt to keep up with technology. One of the significant updates is making their app utilize the location services found on most devices. In 2017, the same year Snapchat went public, Snap Map launched. Snap Maps allow for connected users to see their location at all times. This means that unless you enable “ghost mode,” any of your connected friends on Snapchat can see your exact location at any time. Snap Map provides a map of the entire world, and as you zoom in, you can see where a specific person is located in exact detail. This poses a risk to every user, especially if they do not know all of their contacts personally.

For more information about Snap Maps, check out this video.

For many teens, Snapchat is their primary form of communication. They often prefer it over texting or other social media platforms. Honestly, I don’t blame them. Snap chat offers everything a typical phone offers. You can chat with some, group chat with multiple people, make phone calls, and make video calls with one or multiple people. You can do all of these things while Snapchat offers the false allure of temporary. Whether to one or person or multiple, both text and pictures disappear within seconds after they receive it. But the receiver has the initial option to save text or pictures. In the end, nothing on Snapchat is temporary.

Awareness is key for all parents, and Snapchat is now a part of a teen’s everyday life whether they have it downloaded or not. The app can be great for communication and connection, but it can also be dangerous if not used safely. I encourage you to view the resources below for additional information to help you become more aware and to help you keep your teen safe.



Photo by Neelabh Raj on Unsplash