What is Snapchat? Here's What You Need to Know

You know about Snapchat whether you have tweens, or teens. And if you can't find out how it works, you are more than 25 years. One of the most popular social media apps out there, Snapchat offers what kids and teens really want: an easy way to share daily moments while making them look cool at the same time. And unlike Facebook and Twitter, where all you do is captured and transmitted, Snapchat uses messages that are intended to vanish. 

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Snapchat is a mixed bag like so many social media applications, but it's a good idea to learn how it works, how your kids use it and how much time they 're spending on it so you can make sure their interactions are positive.

As well as allowing you to connect with and follow friends, Snapchat offers a lot more awesome stuff: 

  • Games 
  • News and Entertainment
  • Quizzes
  • Truly Innovative Photo
  • Video Editing Tools 

Quite innovative, in fact, it's almost impossible for grown-ups to figure them out and Children love it.

Is Snapchat a Good Way to Connect Teens?

It is a huge appeal for children to think about posing, sharing and then forgetting about the little moments of life. And that's what they are really using Snapchat for. The app has a lighthearted layout and aims toward rainbows and flower crowns with its photo filters. But other features pose dangers: Snap Map lets buddies see each other's location on a map, which isn't always safe; snapstreaks allow children to exchange messages for as long as possible, which is a huge time-suck; and Discover provides some inappropriate content. But with your privacy, protection, social media pressure and marketing guidance, Snapchat can be a fun way to connect teens.

What is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a popular messaging app that allows users to share images and videos (Snaps) that disappear after viewing them. It's known as a "modern form of camera," since the basic purpose is to take pictures or videos, apply filters, lenses or other effects and share them with the loved ones.

How Does Snapchat Work?

All you need to do is register with your name, an email address and your date of birth. Users go by a username on Snapchat, and Snap chatters respond better towards funny names. You can upload your contacts to add friends, or search for people you know. You can also add anyone automatically by taking a picture of their "Snapcode," which is a special QR code unique to each person. Things get a bit awkward after that. On Snapchat, the conversation typically begins with picture not text. Tap the big camera circle to start a chat, and take a shot. There are all kinds of photo editing tools along with awesome filters ready to adorn your pictures.

Snapchat’s Age Requirement

In accordance with the terms and conditions of Snapchat, users have to be 13. To set up an account, you need to enter your birth date, but there is no age verification so it's convenient for children under 13 to sign up. Common Sense Media ranks Snapchat fair for teenagers with the age 16 and over, mostly due to the exposure to age-inappropriate material and marketing ploys that collect data, such as quizzes.

Do Messages Disappear on Snapchat?

It depends I f you set a snap time limit it will vanish after it is shown. However, receivers may use their phones or a third-party screen-capture software to take a screenshot of an image. A screen-capture phone can alert the sender that the image has been captured. But notification isn't caused by third-party applications. It indicates that nothing done online is temporary. Before sending an inappropriate or embarrassing snap of yourself or someone else, it is important to note that by tomorrow morning the photo may be circulating the school.

What is a Streak on Snapchat?

When to users send each other snaps in a row within a 24-hour span it is then called a Streak. When you have set up a streak, special emoji’s and statistics appear next to the names of the snapchatters to show you how long you've kept a streak. Why are they important? They add to your overall Snapchat score, for one thing (basically a number that shows how much you're using the Snapchat app). For another, in a child's life they can sometimes become the most important thing. Since kids can create strong bonds over social media, they can feel that Snapstreak is a sign of their relationship, and if they don't keep it going they'll let the other person down.

What is a Snap Map?

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Snap Map shows your position on a real-time monitor. Only your friends on Snapchat will see where you are. If your friends have opted for Snap Map, you can also see where they are located. (You can turn this off or use it in Ghost Mode, which allows you to see the map but will not be seen by others.) Snap Map also displays news and events from all over the world. For instance, a Nicaraguan political rally that shows up as an icon on the world map. The greatest risk with Snap Map is that your location is known to all of your friends on Snapchat and some contacts might not be the real ones.

What is a Story on Snapchat?

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A story is a collection of moments in the form of pictures and videos which create a narrative, taken together. After Snapchat popularized the story creation technique, the other social media networks also introduced story or status creation.  Stories appear as circles on Snapchat, and when you hit them, they autoplay the photos or videos the user takes. You can create individual stories; your friends will be able to view them for 24 hours. 

What is a Snapcode?

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Snapchat gives you your very own special QR code when you sign up. When you meet a fellow Snapchat user and want to become friends with each other, you can just take a snap of the other person's unique QR code and they're added to your friends list automatically. Since finding friends on Snapchat or sharing codes is so easy, teens may end up being on friends list of virtual strangers. That can be dangerous for a number of reasons so it's best to speak to your teen about when adding people is safe and sound.

What is Discover on Snapchat?

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Discover provides content created by famous people, media organizations, entertainment outlets, and others. To receive their feeds, you can subscribe to specific Discover sources. While Discover offers some credible news from publishers such as Vice Media and the New York Times, the offers can be promotional and are often mature. But if your kid has signed up with their correct date of birth, they will miss the ads based on alcohol and other adult content that Snapchat takes down for under age users.  Discover Stories often feature promos triggering users to "Swipe up" to learn more about that specific promo or take a quiz (which is usually a marketing tactic) and leads to ads.

Other Features of Snapchat

Snapchat is more than cute videos. The more you use the app, the higher your Snapchat score goes and the more points you earn. Snapchat is giving trophies and other perks to top scorers. Here are a few more features of Snapchat:

  • Lenses
  • Filters
  • Geo Filters
  • Memories
  • My Eyes Only
  • Shazam

Face & World Lenses

If you've seen pictures of people with dog ears and nose, those are face lenses. World lenses are elements of augmented reality, like rainbows, that you can add to your snap so it looks like it is part of the photograph.


These are location-specific elements which can be accessed only by visiting a specific location. Businesses are using geo-filters as a way for clients to reach in and advertise. For sweet-16 party a kid can create a special geo-filter for friends and family to add to their photographs.


If you don't want your snaps to go anywhere you can save them for sending later.


A feature that assists you identify the song by listening to it.

My Eyes Only

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This is a special feature on snapchat which lets you set a specific four digits’ code to hide your snaps (Photos & Videos). These can only be accessed if you know the code.

Privacy and Security of Snapchat

Since adding friends in Snapchat is so easy, you can end up on your friends list with lots of people you don't know well. And depending on your settings, the app is able to gather a lot of data about your activities inside and outside the app. Snapchat also partners with several third parties, with whom they can share your data.


Snapchat is a lot of fun to use, and there is plenty to learn on it. Snapstreaks and stories add an aspect of time-pressure that makes kids feel like they need to check in. If your kid really seems to be anxious and not using the app for fun, then it is time to step in. Don't forget to share this post with someone who you think might benefit from it.

Related: What is WhatsApp? Here's What You Need to Know


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