If you have been trying to answer this question, you are not alone. So many parents are trying to make this decision. There are so many questions about it! Is it safe for kids? Does my child “NEED” it? How will having this app help or hurt my child? Technology seems to be taking over the world! Each decision can affect so much of how our children develop.
I was listening to some moms that had allowed Snap Chat for their kids and then taken it away. They were filled with frustration that their kids were “hiding things from them” and “sneaking around”. My heart just went out to these moms trying to do what is right for their children and running into so many disagreements in doing so. Since my kids aren’t on Snap Chat, I turned to my mom friends to help me answer some questions about Snap Chat. Hopefully this can help you in deciding what to do with your children. I discovered so many moms really are struggling with the same issues. I found their responses very fascinating.
The first question asked is if their child was allowed to have a smart phone and what are the family rules for its use?
- Many parents gave a “No phones until” rule…ages 12, 13, 16, or if they were the oldest at a school.
- Parents of the kids with phones wanted a way to get a hold of the kids and vice versa.
- It seems almost easier to get a smart phone than a flip phone now. Many kids get their parent’s old smart phone or get a free one from the phone company deal,
- Some parents use a tracking app on their phone. I don’t have that yet, but would love to hear what apps you like.
- A common rule for parents was to limit content on social media.
- Another common rule is setting time limits on the phone using apps. Again, I’d love to hear what you use.
Why did these parents allow their children to get onto Snap Chat?
- Kids were feeling bored during the pandemic.
- Kids felt disconnected to friends and family.
- Parents gave in because “all the other parents are allowing it”.
Things that were liked about Snap Chat…
- Kids love the filters.
- Kids can message friends.
- It is a fun way to connect family. My brother uses it to stay in contact with his adult children. My friend lets her younger kids on Snap Chat to contact cousins that live far away but no friends are allowed.
- Most people thought it was better for older kids, not for Jr High age kids.
In my research, I found some definite reasons to consider not having snapchat.
- The biggest one I found was the advertising/exploring features. It takes advantage of kids curiosity, things they are interested in, and can easily lead to more severe viewing items.
- It deletes everything after the receiver views it. Although it looks like you can save things sent to you.
- There is a high number of online bullies and harassments.
- Many parents reported problems with kids being deceptive with it and hiding it from them.
- Comparison and selfies can lead to increased anxiety and decreased self confidence.
- Pornography was a complaint. Naked pictures were being texted, sexting, and the easiness of being able to click on pictures of inappropriately dressed people. I heard a professional counselor recently say that many of his teenage clients that were addicted to pornography started from social media. It can be a gateway to very harmful addictions with just a few clicks.
- Snap Chat can become addicting to use and a time sucker. It is designed to be interesting for kids, and to encourage frequent use. One mom called her daughter “phone-zoned”.
- Even if you take away their phone and delete the app, they can still log onto Snap Chat from a friend’s phone.
Every child is different. That is one of the beauties of being a mom. You can adapt everything to the needs of your child. If you are going to allow your kids to use Snap Chat or other social media set up very strict rules for their use.
- Make sure you have the app as well and know how it works. Do some research to find out what it is and how it works.
- Set time limits and stick to them.
- Communication is one of the most important things!!! Talk with them about why this app is so important to them. Why they want it, and dangers inherent in its use.
- Talk often with your children about online dangers-ie: what to do if someone sends a nude or inappropriate picture to them, cyber bullying, pornography. One mom said both of her high school age kids had nude pictures sent to them and they brought them to her. She had talked multiple times about it with them and they knew to bring things to her ahead of time. Here is my post about online dangers.
- Do you trust your child? You know them best, but can they really handle the temptations. You have to have 100% trust or it won’t work for the benefit of your child.
- You can block unhealthy friends on Snap Chat.
- Know what subscriptions your child has. You can block those as well.
- Edit ad preferences and user preferences to keep harsh content away.