Snapchat Review

Snapchat makes it easy to communicate with friends and groups with photos, text, and videos that “disappear” after viewing. Here we have provided some good advice and useful settings for the app.

  • Snapchat is an app to send messages that disappear after a while
  • Age limit: Parental Guidance by PEGI, 12+ years in APP Store
  • Can be communicated with a specific user, in groups, or by posting content that becomes available to the whole world
  • It is also possible to see content from celebrities, news outlets, and people from around the world via Spotlight – an in-app feature similar to TikTok

Our review of Snapchat

According to the Norwegian Media Authority’s survey (Children and Media: 2020), 80 percent of children between the ages of nine and 18 use Snapchat. That means Snapchat takes first place as the most used social media in this age group.

Chat and posts

The concept is to send “snaps” to a specific recipient or in groups (up to 100 people in a group). One can also post stories – which is a summary of several images or video clips.

Text in chat disappears automatically (unless you save it). Photos and videos can also be posted in a way that they disappear at the recipient’s end after a while. Or you can choose them to stay.

Account and Friends

Snapchat is free to download and use. To create an account, one needs a full name, date of birth (for children below 13, parents can contact Snapchat), username, and password. Email address or phone number can also be connected to an account.

New friends can be added by searching their names or usernames, or by sharing a Snapcode (scan your friend’s phone). It also has something called “Quick Add.” Friend suggestions in “Quick Add” are based on who you are already friends with, who you subscribe to, and other factors.

It is also possible to call others by voice and video chat (up to 16 people at a time) and play various small games with friends. You can also create groups.

Filters

One of Snapchat’s big and well-developed features is the ability to put filters on the face – put a bunch of beards or hair, get a baby face with a pacifier, turn into a dancing-and-clapping rabbit, or have a monkey plucking lice from your hair. All effects are animated with the face/body of a virtual body in real-time, many of which are both funny and creative.

Stories

On “Stories,” you can post or watch a summary of photos and videos that others have posted. Content from influencers to news sites and subscribed people also appears here.

This tab is divided into two. At the top is the content from friends and people you subscribe to. Below under “explore,” you automatically get content from all over the world. It is algorithmically controlled based on others you follow, like, and so on. Here children may be exposed to content that is intended for an older target group.

Snap Map

Snapchat also has something called a “Snap Map.” Here on a map, you can see where friends are if they share their location. This feature can be turned off.

On the map, you can also see stories from others based on the area they are in. For example, if you want to see content from people who live in a particular city or a country. The map also shows places like restaurants, shopping malls, doctor’s offices, and so on. You can get a road view of these places and see opening hours. When someone is not sharing his/her location, it is called Ghost Mode.

Spotlight

Last but not least, Snapchat has a feature called Spotlight (similar to Tiktok).

Spotlight is a part of Snapchat where you can watch and share short video clips. Popular and reputable video clips can get paid by Snapchat in the form of “Crystals” that can be exchanged for real money. For this, you must have the legal age of maturity or 16 with the consent of a parent or guardian.

Disappearing pictures and video…

When sending a Snap, you can choose how long it will be visible to the recipient. However, it does not prevent the recipient from taking screenshots of the image and then saving or forwarding that.

You will receive a notification if the recipient takes a screenshot. But the recipient can also take pictures of the content in other ways without a notification being given – for example, using another mobile.

It is not astonishing that Snapchat has become so popular. The service is intuitive to use and makes it easy to stay in touch with friends and classmates. Not least, it is possible to follow famous people from all over the world. But these aspects also mean that children and young people can be exposed to unfortunate content.

Otherwise, it can be positive that Snapchat has communication capabilities in groups/with individuals compared to Facebook and Instagram where many people post content to the masses. The fact that messages/pictures disappear after a while can result in more privacy, but at the same time, it can also make it more difficult to investigate bullying/inappropriate communication afterward.

Suitability

Snapchat is labeled “Parental Guidance” by PEGI and 12+ years in the App Store.

Parental guidance is used as a tagging tool when the content of the app cannot be considered in advance. On Snapchat, the content changes all the time depending on what users choose to share with others.

The App Store (Apple) justifies the 12+ rating by saying that the content of the app may consist of profanity and coarse humor, drug use, sexual content, and adult themes.

Some of the content on Snapchat is algorithmically controlled and children and young people could potentially be exposed to advertising, strong news stories, and harmful content.

In Norway, there is a thirteen-year limit on the use of social media, but parents can give consent on behalf of younger children. It means that the platforms are not allowed to collect and use personal data about the child without the parent’s permission.

However, the terms set an absolute limit of at least 13 years for using the service. Snapchat’s parenting guide states a phrase that is easy to misunderstand: “If you have a child under 13 using Snapchat, please reach out to us with your child’s username and verification of your relationship.” This is not about consent for children under the age of 13 but about Snapchat wanting to delete the account.

We also encourage parents to read the terms and conditions and to familiarize themselves with the privacy statement.

Smart settings:

By tapping on the profile picture (top corner of the app) one can choose useful settings on behalf of the children. For example:

  • Turn on two-factor authentication: Get a verification code added every time you sign in to Snapchat on a new device/location
  • Enable/disable notifications. Does it get a lot of fuss every time someone tags you or that alerts pop up about everything from friend suggestions to birthdays? Turn it off
  • Change who can contact you (snaps, chats, and calls): everyone/my friends
  • Change who can see your story: everyone/my friends/selected friends
  • Adjust who can see your location: my friends/my friends except/only these friends
  • Turn off chat location requests
  • Turn off your visibility in someone else’s “add fast” lists so that your profile doesn’t show up as friend suggestions

There are also features for reporting, deleting, and blocking users. Hold down the username in their contact list. Select ‘Manage Friendships” and ‘Report,’ ‘Block,’ or ‘Remove Friend.’

In addition, Snapchat will sometimes ask users to check through their friend list and encourage removing those who are not “close friends.” This will appear as a notification in the app. Users can then easily remove Snapchatters that they do not want to be in contact anymore.

It should also be noted that images/texts in chat may disappear. For example, if someone sends something bad, you may want to save that as evidence, you may want to take screenshots of the photo. Read more about how to take screen evidence on different devices.

It is also possible to report images/videos by holding onto the content and selecting reports (the three dots on Spotlight).

Get more tips from  Snapchat’s own guide to parents.

(Translated and shortened from Norwegian by Ratan Samadder)