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How to Protect Kids on Snapchat

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The Heritage Foundation gives Snapchat a child safety rating of D.

Safety Rating Explanation: Snapchat has a number of drawbacks. Although it is not impossible to use Snapchat in a safe way, the fundamental features of its design pose significant risks to children and teens.

What Is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a social media app that allows users to send disappearing messages, photos, and videos to friends.

What Are Snapchat’s Main Features?

Disappearing Messages

Snapchat’s essential feature is disappearing messages called “snaps.” These messages can be photos, videos, or simple text messages. While they vanish after being viewed, recipients can still take screenshots. The illusion of temporary content can encourage users to share things that they might not otherwise.

Snap Maps

Snap Maps is a feature of Snapchat that lets users share their location with friends on a map. It shows you where friends are in real time, represented by an avatar called a Bitmoji. While it can be a useful tool among friends, location data should only be shared with highly trustworthy individuals. Visibility on Snap Maps can be adjusted or turned off entirely in Snapchat settings.


A Snapcode is a unique identifier for each user on Snapchat that looks like a pattern of dots and lines, akin to a QR code. When people scan a Snapcode with the camera feature within Snapchat, they can quickly add the user as a friend without typing in a username.


Snapchat’s “Discover” tab is a section within the Snapchat app where users can view content from various publishers, creators, and news outlets. It includes articles, videos, and interactive content that covers a range of topics like news, entertainment, lifestyle, and more.

Is Snapchat Safe for my Child?

No. Snapchat poses a considerable risk to your child’s safety. The disappearing messages feature can provide a false sense of security, as messages can be easily screenshotted and saved with or without the child’s awareness. Private information can easily be shared with untrustworthy peers or predators. Snapchat’s Snap Maps feature, which shares a user’s live location on a map with their friends is also a major risk to young users.

How to Adjust Settings on Snapchat

  1. While Snapchat has minimal supervision features, parents can take steps to protect their children and teens on the platform. By changing settings for “Contact Me” and “View My Story” to “Friends Only”, the risk of being contacted or stalked by strangers can be greatly reduced.
  2. Change the “See My Location” feature to “Ghost Mode” to prevent location tracking, and disable “Show Me in Quick Add.” However, the most certain way of ensuring safety is to avoid  Snapchat entirely.

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