Since its release in 2011, Snapchat has become one of the most used and talked about apps in the world. Despite its popularity, Snapchat can be confusing for people unfamiliar with the app. Below you will find out what Snapchat is, who is using Snapchat, key features that make it so popular and information regarding what parents can do to keep children safe on Snapchat.

What is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a mobile app that allows users to send and receive photos and videos, which then disappear after being viewed. The photos and video that are taken on Snapchat are called snaps.

Snapchat is both a messaging platform and a social network. Users build their networks with friends and acquaintances. Users have the option of sending photos, videos or a chat message to the friends in their network.

Once a sender takes a snap, he or she can choose the length of time that the receiver can view the piece of media. The sender can choose 1-10 seconds, or no limit. Once the snap is opened the time begins. Once the receiver closes the photo or video it disappears.

How many people use Snapchat?

  • In November 2017, Snapchat reported 178 million daily active users.
  • 3.5 billion snaps are sent on average per day.
  • Snapchat reports that the average user spends 30 minutes per day on the app.
  • 78 percent of U.S. teens say they use Snapchat.

Snapchat Features

Snapchat Stories – Allows users to post content that is available for all of their followers/friends to view for 24 hours as many times as they would like before disappearing.

Drawing – Snapchat features an easy drawing tool which allows the user to draw on top of photos or video and add text before sending.

Snapchat Lenses / Filters – One of the most popular aspects of Snapchat is the ability to use lenses, which can also be called filters. The lenses add special effects to the photo or the background.

Snapmap – Snapchat has added a Snapmap function which allows a user to know where all of their friends are at any given moment. If a user opts to enable location/gps tracking in the app, he or she will appear on the Snapmap and can be tracked by followers.

Discover and Live Stories – Snapchat offers a range of news and entertainment videos in their ‘discover’ function. From this area of the app, users can watch short videos updating them on the latest news from various media partners.

Snapstreak – When a user and a friend ‘snap’ each other within 24 hours for three consecutive days, a fire emoji will appear next to the other user’s name along with a number. This number represents the number of consecutive days the two users have snapped each other.

What should parents and kids know about privacy on Snapchat?

Screenshots – The component of Snapchat that brings up the most confusion among nonusers is that the images, video and chats that are sent forever disappear after opening. While true, screenshots are still possible. The user who receives a snap has the ability to take a screen shot of what they have received. When a person takes a screenshot, it saves to his or her phone and can be shared with others. If someone does take a screenshot, a notification will be sent immediately to the sender to let them know that a screenshot was taken.

It is important that users understand that what they send could be saved by the receiver and sent to others.

Privacy – It is important that users and parents are both aware of their options when it comes to privacy. From the settings page, users can scroll down to the “Who Can…” section. From there, users can control who can contact them, send notifications, view their story and their location. Users also have the ability to remove friends, block users and report users if the situation calls for it.

For more information, this video tutorial on YouTube walks you through the sign up and use process.