Do you SnapChat? If so, you are one of 100 million people who love to send quick “Snapz” to friends or family. Even if you are not a part of this social media craze, you probably have heard plenty about the app as well. After all, SnapChat = sexting, right?
Not necessarily. Just like any other social media platform, SnapChat can be used responsibly or unwisely. SnapChat in and of itself is pretty benign: user take a picture or video, caption it, filter it, put a timer on it, and send it to another user. Once the recipient opens the message, the picture or video disappears from view after the timer ends.
In a day and age where kids seem to love to let it all hang out online, it could be a positive sign that so many are turning to a more private social media platform. However, that privacy makes it hard for parents to monitor their children’s SnapChat activity. Whether you believe SnapChat is a blast or have banned it from your family’s mobile devices, here are three things you might not have known about this new app.
1) The messages don’t necessarily disappear
To clarify, the messages sent and received are not saved anywhere in the SnapChat app, or automatically saved on either the sending or receiving device. However, that does not mean that all the messages are gone for good.
If the recipient is quick enough, he or she can take a screenshot and save the message to the mobile device. SnapChat will notify the sender if the recipient takes a screenshot. However, if the recipient uses a camera on a different device, no notification will occur. There are other third party apps that can save SnapChat messages as well.
2) If you are under thirteen years old, your account will automatically be a Snapkidz account.
Snapkidz, the child version of SnapChat, allows users to snap pictures and play with the images but not to send or receive messages. Anyone who creates an account and enters a birthday that indicates their age is under thirteen will automatically receive a Snapkidz account.
This is a great safety feature, but of course it relies on users’ honesty. It is simple to put in a false birthday when creating an account, or even to delete a Snapkidz account and reinstall the SnapChat app with a “new” birthday to get access to an “adult” account.
3) It can be another FaceTime or Skype
It’s less commonly known that SnapChat also has a video call feature. Tap the square in the bottom left hand corner, and you’ll be taken to your friends list. Swipe right on a friend’s name, and SnapChat will make a chat space for your conversation. You can send text, image, or video messages from here. But, if your friend is online and on SnapChat, a box in the bottom right hand corner will turn blue. If you press and hold the blue box, your friend will be able to see and hear you. If your friend also holds down the blue box, you will see him or her as well.
SnapChat’s video calling is a bit unwieldy at first compared to Skype or SnapChat (you have to keep your finger on the screen or swipe the lock symbol to maintain the video call), but it provides clear calls and a good connection once you get the hang of it. Just know that anyone on your friends list can call if you are on SnapChat.
Like almost any other social media platform, SnapChat can be fun in wise hands and incredibly dangerous in immature hands. If your teens are still getting the hang of internet safety or need their online activity monitored, this app is probably not suitable for your family. While most people nowadays understand that nothing online truly goes away, SnapChat’s disappearing messages create an illusion of internet privacy. It is refreshing to step away from the show-all, tell-all social media world, but just because something seems lost does not mean it cannot be found.
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