The privacy and safety implications of this powerful communication tool.
Snapchat is a powerful and extremely addicting instant messaging app that focuses on delivering image and video content to friends and added contacts. The appeal of Snapchat is that it can instantly capture an image, enhance it with a number of features and filters, and then send it to any number of contacts (or all) simultaneously for a set period of time. As a teacher or parent, it is important to recognize that Snapchat can push many privacy and safety boundaries. It is important to have conversations about these boundaries and ensure that you are being cautious and methodical when utilizing such a powerful image based social media platform. Snapchat conversations about privacy and safety should be ongoing, frequent, and informed as its use as a communication tool among young adolescents is rampant both inside and outside of the classroom walls. Parents and teachers are encouraged to become familiar with the specific ways that the privacy and safety of a young adolescent can become compromised when using Snapchat.
- Content- One of the biggest downsides of Snapchat is that images can be quickly “snapped” in any situation with or without consent and sent to any number of contacts. It is important for young adolescent users of Snapchat to think critically about the content they are sending to others and ensure that the image creations they are sending don’t lack compassionreflect poor judgement or a lack of compassion towards others.
- Stories- Snap Stories are a personal collection of images and video content that are posted to one’s profile and available to be viewed by any one of your contacts. It can also be thought of as a public highlight reel- Snap stories tend to be quick glimpses of exciting or memorable moments in one's life that someone intentionally shares for a twenty four hour time period. Be sure to know exactly who you are choosing to share your personal informationcollections and stories with..
- QR codes- The built in Snapcode, or QR Code, is the quickest way to add a friend to your contacts and image communications. A quick scan of this unique yellow code can instantly add a friend, unlock filters, or even direct someone to a website. It is important to know that Snapcodes can also be easily shared via a screenshot between friends, placed in a text message, or even posted on another social media platform. With a simple click, Snapcodes can be saved in device camera rolls and sent digitally any number of ways. Be sure to encourage your student or child to be cautious with how they share their unique Snapcode- in person and to close friends only is always best!
- Snap Map- There are many things to be found on the built-in Snap Map! The physical location of friends, the heatmap of snaps around the world, the location of stories, and the ability to interact with local businesses. It is super easy to view the location of your friends as the Snap Map indicates their location with a Bitmoji icon. With a click or two in the Snapchat App, you can see if your child is at soccer practice, at their friends house, or safely making their way to school or work. You will also see if any of your other Snap contacts are with them! Be aware of the safety concerns if your student or child chooses to share their physical location with others.
- Discover- The built in Discover feature in Snapchat is designed as a news feed to keep you up to date on recent news and other curated content. Accessible content may include sponsored ads, celebrities, snap original stories, trending influencer stories, stories from individuals that you follow, playlists, etc. Parents should be aware that children could have access to some inappropriate and/or undesirable content through this feature and should take the time to preview what information is at your child’s fingertips. Some material may be filtered out for underage users, but there is no guarantee of what content they may be exposed to through the discover tool on Snapchat.
- Settings- The settings on any social media platform, especially Snapchat, are there for a reason. Adjust your settings so that you have careful control over who has access to the content you choose to share. Take a few minutes to explore the different options under settings, one in particular that I would recommend careful review of is the “who can...” section. In this section you can adjust who can contact you, who can see your story, who can see your location, and more! Spending a few minutes adjusting settings can certainly go a long way to protecting your personal safety and well being.