Snapchat Safety for Parents: How to Safeguard Your Child

3 mins read

Snapchat is a popular social media messaging app that allows you to send and receive pictures and videos (called Snaps) to users. Snap Inc. is the developer of the app and also makes other products like Snapchat Spectacles. It is available for both Android and iOS users and is free to download. However, a premium subscription to the app called Snapchat+ is also available for purchase. 

How does Snapchat work?

It was initially a personal photo-sharing app. However, Snapchat features now include short videos, video chat, messaging, photo storage, generative AI, and more. Each Snap shared with your followers is temporary and available for 24 hours until you delete it or set a different limit. You can also add various filters, lenses, emojis, and text to your snaps. Additionally, you can create group chats to talk to friends or send messages to individual friends. As well as the above, Snapchat has a ‘Discovery’ and ‘Spotlight’ area. 

How does Snapchat use AI

With the popularity of artificial intelligence and ChatGPT, Snapchat has added its own version called My AI. It appears automatically in users’ contact lists. Unlike other contacts, My AI cannot be deleted unless you have Snapchat+, Snapchat’s premium subscription option. My AI works like any other chatbot, allowing users to interact with the AI. Like ChatGPT, it can also provide more detailed answers, like the solution to a math problem. As with any AI tool, it is important that children understand appropriate and inappropriate ways to use it to support skill-building. 

What data does my AI collect?

Like ChatGPT, My AI collects data from the interactions users have with it. If location is enabled, My AI can use it to help answer questions asked by users. If you share content like written messages or Snaps, my AI keeps that data as well. According to the Snapchat Help Center, users should avoid sharing confidential or sensitive information with My AI. Additionally, it is against the rules to ask My AI to generate harmful content, such as promoting violence, self-harm, human trafficking or any content that goes against community guidelines.

What is the minimum age for Snapchat?

Like many other social networks, the minimum age to use Snapchat is 13 years old. However, research shows that children as young as 13 use the service. If your child is interested in using social media but does not meet the age requirements, they face additional online risks.

What is Dreams from Snapchat?

Dreams is an AI tool available through Snapchat’s Memories. It uses the images you supply to create AI generated images. To access the feature, swipe up on the Home Camera screen to open Memories and select Dreams at the top. You must agree to the terms presented, which state that the tool will use the provided images to generate or enhance the Snap. Additionally, “Your facial information may also be used to develop machine learning models throughout this service.” When uploading your image, you also have to agree to let other people, including Snap, use your likeness to create new images. You can customize your settings for this and delete your images at any time.

How do I delete data from my AI?

If your teen uses My AI regularly, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of regularly deleting their data. You can do this by going to their Account Privacy Controls in their Settings, selecting ‘Clear data’ and then selecting ‘Clear my AI data’. Additionally, make sure you talk to your teen about what is and isn’t okay to share with artificial intelligence like My AI.

What is Snapchat Family Centre?

Snapchat Family Centre is an in-app feature to help parents connect with their teen’s digital world. This feature helps pave the way for important online security conversations. According to Snap, it will “reflect the way parents connect with their teens in the real world.” Just like offline, parents can know who their teen’s online friends are. Family Centre on Snapchat allows a direct link between parents and teens. 

What does Snapchat Family Centre allow parents to do?

  • See which Snapchat friends your teen has sent messages, photos, or videos to in the last seven days. It does not reveal the actual content of their conversations (snaps or messages);
  • See the full list of their teen’s current friends;
  • Easily see new friends their teen has added, making it easy to start conversations about who their new contacts are.
  • Easily and confidentially report any account to Snapchat’s 24/7 trust and safety teams for investigation;
  • Access key information about how to use Family Centre tools, as well as resources for important conversation starters and tips for using Snapchat safely.

Teens who have opted-in to Family Centre can also see what their parents see with a mirrored view of the features. They can also notify parents when teens report content on an account or platform.

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