Name: Snapchat

Owned by: Snap, Inc.

Age Rating*:

  • Rated 12+ for the following:
  •  Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content and Nudity
  •  Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humor
  •  Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References
  • Infrequent/Mild Mature/Suggestive Themes

*Information from the App Store

Category: Photo and Video

Brief Description: Photo sharing, Instant messaging, Video chat, Multimedia

Operating System: IOS and Android

Available for download: Yes

Desktop version: No

Approximate release date: 2011

Date reviewed by Shape the Sky: January 2019


Quick Reference Guide

Snapchat Quick Reference Guide

Quick Reference Guide
“Memories” (from past posts)
“Stories” Posts
Suicide posts are not part of Snapchats content. It could be shared or posted by users.
Access to Camera (device camera)
Access to Contacts (on the device)
Access to Photo Gallery (on the device)
Accounts Available for Purchase Online (eBay as an example)
You can purchase “boosts” for your Snap Score on eBay. This requires you give the seller access to your account (password) so they can “boost” your score.
Anonymous Posting (posting without a username or other identifiers)
Business Accounts (used for business)
Chat Function (public)
Clear History Function
Collects Users Information
Connect with Strangers (ability to)
Cyberbullying Opportunities
Death Themes and/or Dark Content/Imagery/References
Designed to be Purposefully Deceptive
Direct Messaging (private)
Disappearing Messaging/Images
There are links to “news” stories from “Publishers” in the Discover section.
Eating Disorder Content/Imagery/References
Emoji Search (search content with emoji’s like keywords or hashtags)
Firearms Content/Imagery/References
Graphic Content (images of death, car crashes etc.)
Group Chat Function
Group Video Chatting
Hashtag Use (uses hashtags as a search/directory)
“My Eyes Only” in Memories. Password protected.
Hidden Photo Vault
Hidden Web Browser
Image Sharing
Currently only available for it’s publishing partners. Not available for users as of this time.
Live Streaming Function
Location Dependent Services (must use location for it to function)
Location Services Enabling
Login with Facebook
From publishing partners. Examples: Seventeen, Vice, The Washington Post, People, NBC News
Marketing (sponsored content)
Mental Health Content/Imagery/References
Nudity is not part of Snapchats content. As with any messaging platform, users may choose to send nude content to each other or on a “story”.
Nudity (without clothes, no sexual acts)
Users can take pictures and store them within Snapchat and then can send them once they are connected to wifi or data.
Offline Functionality (can be accessed without wifi/cell service)
Some current shows by Snapchat: Deep Creek, Endless Summer, The Dead Girls Detective Agency, Growing up Drag.
Original Content (shows, news, movies)
Password Protected (beyond account password)
Photo Filters and Editing
Pornography posts are not part of Snapchats content. It could be shared or posted by users.
Pornography (sexual acts, pictures or videos)
Privacy Settings (able to set account as private)
Purchases, In-App, for Sponsored Content (unrelated to the app)
There are many Snapchat products for sale within the app.
Purchases, In-App, Provided by the App (app related products)
Reporting Functions (report bullying, inappropriate content)
Scoring System (trophies, points, rewards etc.)
Screen Recording Notification
Screenshot Notifications “Stories”
Screenshot Notifications Pictures/Videos
Search Function (content within the app)
Self-Injury Content
Self-Promotion (for popularity or marketing)
Sexual Accounts Accessible by Purchase
WatchMyFeed is the current site where account access can be purchased.
Sexualized Content
Suicide Content
Upgradable (for more content or to remove ads)
Video Chatting
Video Sharing
Voice Chatting
Web Browsing (build into the app)
Content Levels

Snapchat Content Guide

Content Levels
Drug/Alcohol Content/Posts/Imagery
There are some “news” stories in the Discovery section that discuss marijuana.
Eating Disorder Topics/Content/Posts/Discussion/Imagery
Graphic Content (images of death, car crashes etc.)
Mental Health Content
Nudity is not part of Snapchats content. As with any messaging platform, users may choose to send nude content to each other or on a “story”.
Self-Injury Content
Sexualized Topics/Content/Posts/Imagery
Sexual “Publisher Stories” can be found in the Discovery section. Search the word “sex” in the Discover section.
Suicide Topics/Content/Posts/Discussion
Vaping Topics/Content/Posts/Imagery
There are some “news” stories in the Discovery section that discuss vaping.
Ryan’s Thoughts

I don’t like the term “dangerous apps.” Apps are not inherently dangerous. What I like to focus on is the behaviors on the apps and how we can teach responsible behaviors on any digital platform.  While Snapchat has a deceptive feel to it due to the disappearing messaging function, the messages/pictures/videos are not always inappropriate. Setting expectations and discussing behaviors for using the app is very important as a parent. Snapchat itself isn’t dangerous,  but a youth posting risky content could turn into a dangerous situation.

If they have not been exposed to sexualized content, drugs and mental health topics before Snapchat, there is a high potential for them to be exposed after they create a Snapchat account. If you have had prevention discussions around these topics, then you could feel more comfortable letting your 13-year-old use Snapchat.

Discuss help seeking strategies with your youth, such as what do to if they would see someone posting about mental health issues, depression, self-harm or suicide. Teach them to use the reporting functions built into Snapchat and to keep an open line of communication with you as the parent. Teach them how to report and block users that post inappropriate content or who are bullying your child.

There are “Publishers’ Stories” about sex available. You should be prepared for your kids to see these as it’s easy to stumble upon and kids are curious about sex at that age. Talk to your children about not posting sexual or provocative content. Teach them about self-esteem based upon the content of their character, not the appearance of their body.  As of today, a search of the word “sex” in the Discover section resulted in these Publishers’ Stories: “Your Biggest Sex Questions Answered” (Teen Vogue), “We Asked Sex Workers About Their First Days on the Job” (Vice), and “7 Hookup Secrets Sex Therapists Want You to Know” (Cosmopolitan).

Adult Snapchat accounts can be accessed through a purchase. As of this writing you can search “WatchMyFeed” and find accounts that will, for a fee, allow you access to sexually explicit Snapchat accounts. The fees are monthly and some are available for purchase for a year. Fees range from $14-$60 a month and around $99 for a year’s access.

Be aware of multiple accounts as well. Youth will sometimes have a well-curated appropriate account that you know of, but will also other accounts where questionable behaviors will occur.

Snapchat Safety Tips:

My #1 recommendation: If you are going to let your child have an Snapchat account, you should have an account as well so that you can effectively educate them on how to use it responsibly.

Here are some other suggestions.

  • Do not use full names as usernames.
  • Set the account to private.
  • Here is how to set the privacy settings.
  • Only accept followers of people they know in person.
  • Remove any unknown followers that they currently have.
  • Do not post personal information such as drivers license, school ID’s, state ID’s, phone numbers, birth certificates, school schedules and other identifying information.
  • Turn off location services.
  • Use the reporting system when they see inappropriate content.
  • Here is how to report content.
  • Talk to a parent if they see a concerning post from a friend (mental health, bullying, inappropriate posts).
  • Report bullying both through Snapchat’s reporting function and to a parent.
  • Save screenshots of bullying behaviors.
  • Block bullies.
  • Stick with the age restrictions.
  • Remind youth that even though an account is private, privacy isn’t guaranteed. Once a post is shared, it is totally out of the users’ control.
  • A digital reputation begins the moment an account is opened. What they post now could affect them later in life.
  • I would not recommend children less than 13 use Snapchat, even though the current app rating is 12+.

~ Ryan