As part of our safeguarding training we discuss the many risks that come with online platforms and social media, the professionals we train all come into close contact with children and young people but don’t necessarily have a good understanding of how to advise the young people in their care of how to stay safe when using social media platforms.
Since its release in 2011, smartphone app Snapchat has grown increasingly popular amongst the younger generations as it allows them to easily share photos and videos or ‘snaps’ which will self-destruct after being viewed for up to 10 seconds. This of course, like many other social media platforms brings about its own range of dangers for users.
We provide our top 7 tips to staying safe on the app and ensuring users you come into contact with do not fall victim to the many scams and abusers who are contributing to the 400 million snaps sent each day.
- 1. Don't add people you don't know to your friends list – This may seem like stating the obvious but Snapchat allows you to have a username which doesn’t necessarily need to be your own name and allows names such as ‘SnapUser1’. This may encourage users to accept them in case they know them but it’s always better to be safe. If you think it may be one of your friends, ask them, if not don’t accept.
- 2. Don’t feel uncomfortable about blocking someone you no longer want on your Snapchat - Block friends who you no longer want on your Snapchat by selecting their name and then the cog icon. They won’t get a notification saying you have deleted them but you will no longer receive any snaps from them or be able to view their story and vis versa.
- 3. Don't send inappropriate snaps - Even though you trust the friend or friends who you're snapping, you have to assume that anyone can see the snap as soon as it has been opened. Don’t assume the person you are snapping is alone.
- 4. Keep your location private - Whilst it may be tempting to add a geofilter to your Snapchats, or where you are to a public story, it's safer to use filters that don't reveal your location. The same notion goes for snaps of addresses and license plates, these all can help identify your location and when in the wrong hands can be detrimental. You should also be aware of snaps featuring landmarks or emblems such as school uniforms.
In 2017 Snapchat also released ‘SnapMaps’, a way to quickly identify where your contacts are and what’s going on around them, this has also been the cause of a lot of worry amongst parents as if their child does not select ‘Ghost mode’ in SnapMaps their contacts can see exactly where they are in real-time. Select Ghost mode whilst in SnapMaps by pressing the cog in the top right corner and sliding across the switch.
- 5. Don't give out personal information over Snapchat –If you are planning to send your personal information over Snapchat you obviously trust the person you are sending to, however, your snaps stop being private and become public as soon as you hit the send button so anything you wouldn't feel comfortable sharing with people who aren’t on your friend list is best left for in-person conversations.
- 6. Ensure your snap settings are correct – It is crucial that only people who have both added you on Snapchat and been approved by you will be able to send you snaps and view your story, ensure this by altering the settings to ‘My friends’ under the ‘who can’ section.
- 7. Ensure you are not shown in Quick Add - Slide the ‘Show me in Quick Add’ switch left in your Snapchat settings which is found under the ‘Who can’ section and ‘see me in Quick Add’.
"Quick Add" puts your username in a suggested friends list for other users, so disabling this means that other Snapchat users will have to look you up by your name or manually type your username to add you.
Following these tops tips won’t necessarily mean that strangers will not try to contact children and young people but they will make it a lot harder for them to become a target of online groomers and scammers.
Remember, if they are unsure about someone’s username, don’t accept and if they feel uncomfortable about some of the snaps/messages they are receiving, block the contact and tell someone that is trusted by the individual.