According to the Business of Apps, Snapchat is the #1 social media platform of Generation Z. That’s anyone born between the mid-‘90s and 2015. Just look at these numbers from eMarketer:
- US penetration rate among 12-17-year-olds – 92%
- US penetration rate among 18-24-year-olds – 94%
Seeing online safety become an ever-growing issue, that’s something you should educate yourself and your children about. Knowing that your kids are most likely using it more often than contraception, it’s time to lay down some important guidelines.
Why Snapchat can be dangerous
Let’s start by explaining what Snapchat is and why it can be dangerous. At its core, Snapchat is all about images and video. You send them to another user, but once opened, they remain available for a limited time. If they are unopened for 30 days, Snapchat allegedly deletes them from their servers.
This means that images and videos that your sometimes-irresponsible teens send are out there on the web, and they are only as safe as their Snapchat account. Therefore, it’s crucial to make sure those accounts are protected.
Use secure passwords
It never ceases to amaze how many people use weak passwords. We’re talking about “123456”, “abcdef” and alike. The worst part – they often use the same password for everything!
This doesn’t apply to Snapchat only. Every single account should have a unique and complex password. The recommended number of characters should be at least 16, but we’ll admit we don’t always use that many ourselves. However, we always use a minimum of 12 and a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. Also, there shouldn’t be any identifiable words in the password.
We see you asking – how on earth me or my children should be able to remember dozens of random symbol patterns that don’t make any sense? Well, that’s what the password managers are for. This software allows you to access all your passwords with only one master password that you need to remember. This may sound cumbersome, but we assure you, at the moment, this is the best way to make sure you stay safe online.
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Snapchat offers a great option to log in with two-factor authentication. Use it. For that matter, use it on any site that offers it. It’s an excellent additional layer of protection.
Snapchat has several caveats about the functionality, though. When using it, make sure you check their help files to understand under what circumstances you might lose access to your account. Those conditions are for your own protection, but you might not think so if you suddenly can no longer log in to Snapchat.
Toggle Snapchat settings
Within the Snapchat settings, you can fine-tune who can contact you or see your Stories.
There’s also an option to turn “Quick Add” on or off. Disabling this means you won’t pop up as a suggested friend. Having in mind that there could be six degrees of separation between you and the person Snapchat recommends you to, you should keep the “Quick Add” feature off.
Everyone is your friend?
Don’t share your posts with “Anyone.” By doing so, you’re giving access to your profile to every single Snapchat user across the globe.
When you set up a Snapchat account, the default account setting is that only those friends who you’ve added can contact you and view your Stories. Assuming you have trustworthy friends, which is not always the case during teenage years, it’s best to leave the setting at “My Friends.” If you want to get specific, use the “Custom” option.
Turn off the location setting
When you’re setting up Snapchat for the first time, you have the option to share your location. We recommend choosing the “Ghost Mode,” which makes your location invisible to everyone. Just because your post disappears doesn’t mean that someone didn’t capture a screenshot while it was up.
There are a lot of crazy people on the internet. Don’t make it easy for them to track you down.
Keep your username and your Snapcode safe
There’s something we see all the time in Facebook groups. In groups for games that share lives and energy, you’ll often find people sharing their Facebook username to get more lives or energy. They probably don’t have a clue about the possible dangers.
Don’t do that in Snapchat. Anyone who has your username or Snapcode can add you as a friend. And then they will be privy to whatever you put out there thinking it will soon be out of sight, out of mind.
Use common sense and think before you post
Unfortunately, these settings can’t be enabled at will. Kids aren’t always cautious – they’ll often act before they think, and in the case of Snapchat, that could be dangerous, especially if the above steps haven’t been taken to ensure a few extra layers of protection.
This one may be on the parents. You’ve likely taught your kids to be aware of all kinds of dangers, but some of them hide in places they or you might never suspect.
And it’s not just the dangers. You might already know that most employers now check applicant’s social media profiles? Make sure that your kids know that what they post today may be around to haunt them forever. That’s because even on Snapchat, they can’t be 100% sure that their posts are gone. People can use third-party apps, which let them save Snaps. Or they could simply take a screenshot. In a few years or so, those posts could be used against you or your child.
Technology is great, and we believe that we should all embrace it. Make use of it. But respect it. Educate yourself. Be aware of any dangers it might pose.