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Welcome to the The Cap from The Common Parent our very own recap series of the topics and trends impacting teens and tweens today dedicated to keeping the common parent in the know.
 
📮 In today's Issue, we cover one of the most popular social media apps among teens and tweens:
👻 What is it? 
Snapchat is a multimedia messaging app that enables users to share moments with each other through “Snaps” (aka photos, texts, and short video clips). With its signature ghost over a yellow backdrop, the Snapchat logo symbolizes what sets Snapchat apart from other social networking apps: its “phantom” policy - the temporary nature and ultimate 'death' of Snaps because they disappear between 1-10 seconds after viewing.

Almost 25% of Snapchat’s users are still in high school. Wildly popular with teens, about 59% of kids ages 13 to 17 use Snapchat as their favorite way to share everyday moments. 

🚨 Why it matters:
The very thing that sets Snapchat apart - messages that disappear after viewing - makes it very hard for parents to monitor their child’s activity on the app as Snapchat does not keep a “history” or “archive” of messages after they are gone. 
 
Mature Content and Sexting:
When Snapchat first launched, it was largely known as the “sexting app” due to the appeal of sending risqué photos that would disappear within seconds of being viewed. The perceived reduced risk of a photo circulating the internet made sexting via Snpachat quite tempting for teens and adults alike. Snapchat itself admits that up to 25% of users may send sensitive content on a regular basis “experimentally.”
 
Drug Dealing:
Because messages and photos on Snapchat disappear after viewing, it has also become an ideal platform for drug dealers hoping to remain inconspicuous. In our first Issue of The Cap, we covered the rise in teen overdose rates due to the potent opioid fentanyl. Both the United States Justice Department and FBI have announced an investigation into Snapchat over the use of the platform for drug sales. 
 
Safety & Privacy Concerns:
Here are a few Snapchat settings parents should know they can change in their child's Snapchat Profile settings (by tapping the Gear Icon ⚙️):
  • 📍 Snap Map - to prevent others from seeing your child’s exact location, tap See My Location and turn Ghost Mode ON.
  • 🪟 See Me - to stop the app from suggesting your child as a friend to other users and from suggesting channels for your child to subscribe to, tap See Me in Quick Add, and turn OFF.
  • 📵 Cell Phone - to stop people from finding your child’s Snapchat profile via their cell phone number, tap Mobile Number and turn OFF.
  • 🛑 Stranger Contact - to make sure that only your child’s friends can contact them on Snapchat, tap Contact Me and select My Friends from the options.

🎒 The Cap:
Here are some steps you can take to make Snapchat safer for your child:
  • Tweak their Settings - Go into your child's profile and adjust as you see fit.
  • Don’t let them fall for the myth of “Disappearing Snaps” - A recipient can simply screenshot something before it disappears and have it forever.
  • Talk to your kid about bullying and “Revenge Snaps” - A best friend or boyfriend/girlfriend may not stay that way and a friendly stranger may not be what they seem.
  • Don’t fall for the “Minimum Age of 13” - It is extremely easy for kids under 13 to bypass the age gate and open a Snapchat account.
  • Encourage Reporting - Your child can report any unwanted contact or content to you and within Snapchat.

☀️ The good news:
Many teens use Snapchat safely for its pure moment-sharing purposes. With your guidance and regular check-ins on privacy and safety, Snapchat can remain a fun way for your kids to connect with their friends and engage with the app.
 
Snapchat Family Center 👪 
Snapchat rolled out its new parental controls - Family Center - in the summer of 2022 in an effort to enable parents to monitor their child's Snapchat connections without compromising their autonomy. With Family Center, Parents can see who their teen is contacting, but not their messages. Parents can also confidentially report accounts that concern them without their child's knowledge.
 
"Family Center allows parents to see who's in their child’s universe," said Nona Farahnik, director of platform policy for Snapchat. “It offers parents the ability to ask who someone might be, how they might know a contact, which prompts those kinds of real-time conversations about who teens are talking to.”
 
Snapchat Drug Detection 🔎
In 2022, Snapchat took steps to curb drug dealing on the app, including making it harder for users to find the accounts of minors under the age of 17. Snapchat says it has made significant operational improvements to detect and remove drug dealers from its platform and proactively detects 88% of the drug-related content it finds, while the rest is reported by users.
More sources on Snapchat:

Founders of The Common Parent: Catherine Belknap and Natalie Telfer (Cat & Nat)
The Cap Contributors: Catherine Belknap, Natalie Telfer, Kelly Kresen, Cath Tassie, Lauren Bechard, Sam Phelan and Allie Coughlin

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The contents of The Cap and The Common Parent platforms ("Content") are for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, therapy, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your situation.