The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has included the Snapchat app in this year’s Dirty Dozen list, and rightly so. They also have an outstanding page (also below) detailing the dangers and concerns with Snapchat that cause it to make the list — be sure to click on “More Explanation About Why Snapchat is on the List”. Snapchat can be used in a totally innocent and fun manner, however because the snaps the user sends “disappear” in a matter of seconds it is often used for nefarious purposes. Coupled with a payment system called Snapcash and it is easy to see how dangerous Snapchat is. Still, it is considered the most popular app among teens today.
Sensible Cyber Parenting strongly cautions parents against allowing their teens to have this app until they have a long history of demonstrating responsible digital citizenship AND are very close to leaving the nest. Even in that case, it is a good idea monitor who is on their friend list and to randomly sit down and look at it together so you can see examples of the Snapchats they receive. Doing so also opens the door for continued conversations about wise digital choices.
There have been inexpensive apps that would allow parents to monitor their kids’ Snapchat communications but Snapchat has made changes to their system that disallow that now. A product called MSpy has extensive monitoring capabilities (currently including Snapchat) but it could be cost prohibitive for many families at nearly $200 annually for one device, although a multi-device discount is available. Another product, PocketGuardian, claims to monitor without invading your child’s privacy and has recently added Snapchat to the list of apps monitored by its premium version which costs $12.99 per month for a household.
See our App Watch List , for information about other potentially dangerous apps.