What do you do with Snapchat?

Snapchat is a free app for mobile devices to send picture  and video messages. Recordings, whether photo or video, can be provided with filters, effects, emojis and texts. What's special about the app is that you can decide for yourself how long the sent file is visible to recipients.

Similar to other apps, young people can add a Snapchat story. These stories are visible for 24 hours and can only be viewed by friends or the entire Snapchat community, depending on the setting.

Snapchat is open to users of all ages. However, young people under the age of 13 cannot access all of the app's options. However, age verification only takes place to the extent that users have to enter their date of birth when creating a Snapchat account.

In addition to creative editing options for pictures and videos, young people also prefer to use the messenger to send revealing and erotic photos of themselves. The sending of erotic pictures and videos is Sexting mentioned. However, the security in which users believe they are safe is treacherous. Pictures and videos can be taken and saved as simple screenshots, despite the limited time available. In addition, it is often criticized that it is easy to restore and save deleted images with a little technical knowledge. 

Use Snapchat safely

Communication via Snapchat is designed to spontaneously share moments with other users. Despite the automatic deletion of pictures and videos, it is possible to find and save the files on the device again. Therefore, despite all spontaneity, you should pause for a moment before sending and ask yourself whether you really want to make these photos available to others.

Above all, Snapchat should not be used to send candid pictures or videos. The possibilities that the app offers can also be used negatively. There is a high risk that files may be forwarded or posted on the Internet in order to blackmail or bully thesender.

To use Snapchat safely, you should also make sure that strangers cannot send you pictures or videos. In the settings, you can define who can send you messages and who can view your story. Both settings should be set to "Friends". Friends are the people in the contact list. Therefore, only people you actually know and trust should be added to the contact list.

However, if you are still being harassed by someone, Snapchat offers the option of blocking users. How exactly this works is explained step by step on the Snapchat support page.

Location sharing via the "Snap Map" feature

The "Snap Map" function can be used to track the current location of friends and share your own location with them. This can be done for all friends or for a selected group of people. If you want to use the Snap Map to find others, but do not want to be found yourself, you should activate the "ghost mode". Since permanently sharing your location can also be associated with risks, it is generally recommended to deactivate the location sharing of this function.

Delete Snapchat account

To delete your Snapchat account, it is not enough to remove the app from your smartphone. You have to log in to Snapchat's account portal with your app credentials. There you can select the option "Delete my account". The account will then be deactivated for 30 days before it is permanently deleted. Snapchat wants to offer the possibility to restore the account.

Tips for parents

Often, disputes among friends or a problematic class situation are behind bullying attacks. Talk to your child and inform the teacher if necessary in order to find a solution together.

  • In general, children and young people should break off contact immediately if the chat partners' questions become unpleasant or they feel pressured.
  • Your child should only add people to their contact list who they actually know and trust.
  • Advise your child at an early stage never to meet an online acquaintance alone.

  • Everyone has the "right to their own image". Pictures that are posted or sent in the story without the consent of those pictured can be reported and deleted.
  • Inform your child about copyrights. Videos with songs in the background cannot always be posted without hesitation.
  • In the worst case, criminal action can also be taken against them.

Using reporting buttons, which are now available on every network, you can report violations such as the creation of fake profiles to the site operator. The scope for action then ranges from warnings to deletion of the perpetrators' profiles to criminal prosecution.

In iOS, it is possible to disable the in-app purchases feature. On Android devices, you can set a PIN that is requested before an in-app purchase.