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SnapChat is a social media photo sharing app, infamous for its self-erasing photos, in-built face filters and geographical photo tags.  Users can set different time limits for their photos to disappear (or set to ‘Infinity’) in their stories, and ‘Ghost Mode’ enables them to watch other people’s stories without being seen themselves.

Given that SnapChat has been a popular app for many years, parents may have become complacent in their vigilance.  However, SnapChat has not only evolved with each new update, but it has also become increasingly popular for young people, more so than Facebook or Instagram.   Parents who have become friends with their children on Facebook or Instagram may not be aware that their children are far more active on SnapChat, which is harder to navigate and less intuitive or user-friendly.  The app contains less privacy and bullying protections, and protection from predators than other social media platforms that adults use, simply because adults are not active participants and are not making the app developers accountable.  Parents shouldn’t assume that their children’s use of SnapChat is still as innocent as it was when they first began using it.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS:

SnapChat can give users a false sense of security when sharing their photos, believing they have been automatically erased.  As conversations cannot occur without a photo, users are continually taking photos of themselves or their surroundings to continue their conversation ‘streak’. 

As with anything on the internet, photos and conversations on the app are permanent and public, despite what the app claims.  Users can see if someone has taken a screenshot of their photo but are unable to do anything about it (push notifications need to be turned on, otherwise users need to check manually).

Many safety concerns have been raised by parents, including the ‘Ghost Mode’, geographical photo tags and the ability to chat with strangers. 

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