Social media is like a salad. There are as many people as there are ingredients. Vibrant and colourful and with many different individuals combined in no particular order on the same platform.
Just as any ingredient can be a part of a salad, anyone can be a part of social media, even under false pretenses. Thus every parent’s most significant concern is born. “How do I keep my child’s account safe from predators and strangers?”
Start with your privacy settings.
Snapchat is a photo and video messaging app with timed content that ‘disappears’ after 24 hours. It is popular with kids for its filters, geographic location sharing, photo editing, and expiring content. 69% of teens frequently use the app, and 35% of them say that Snapchat is their favourite app.
Snapchat has an engaging interface, captions and fun features that allow the user to add text, emoji and draw on their pictures or videos before sharing them. The resultant artistic creation is called a ‘snap’.
Users can limit how long a receiver can view their direct videos and image message: 10 seconds or less for direct messages, or for an unlimited time in 24 hours such as in ‘stories’. Snapchat shares the status posts to the user’s contacts or the public unless you change privacy settings.
How to change privacy settings
Step One: Access the settings menu
To access the settings menu, tap on the Bitmoji icon on the top left corner of the home/landing screen of the app – this would take you to their profile. Tap on the settings icon – which is a gear ⚙, on the top right of the screen.
Step two: Scroll down to the ‘Who Can’ Menu
For improved security, Snapchat allows you to change 4 main settings. Who can:
- ‘Contact me’ (this setting adjusts who can contact your child directly with snaps, chats, calls etc.);
- ‘View my story’ (this addresses who can view your child’s posts);
- ‘See my location’ (who can view your child’s GPS location) and
- ‘See me in quick add’ (quick add allows snap-chatters to find each other on the app, it will enable for friends of friends to find your child’s account ).
Step Three: Change the desired setting
For ‘Contact me’ there are only two options; ‘Everyone’ and ‘Friends’. we recommend that you change the setting to ‘friends’. That way, only approved friends can directly contact your child.
‘View my story’: there are three privacy options here: “Everyone,” “My Friends,” and “Custom.” It is recommended that you change it to “My Friends” or create a custom list of approved viewers.
‘See My Location’: to change who can view your child’s GPS location when the app is open. There are three privacy options here: “Everyone,” “My Friends,” and “Custom.” We recommend that you change it to “My Friends” or create a custom list of approved viewers. On the contrary, you may enable ‘Ghost mode’ so that no one will be able to see your child’s GPS location. If desired by you, you can also disable the feature that allows others to request your child’s location.
‘See me in Quick Add’: disabling this feature would mean that other Snapchatter’s (friends of friends) will not be able to find or contact your child on the app unless your child deliberately gives out their username. We recommend that you disable the ‘Show me in Quick Add’ feature.
To Block a Contact
Tap on the Bitmoji icon or name of the user you intend to block in your “My Friends” page. Tap on the settings icon that appears.
Select “Block” from the menu the pop-up menu. This will prevent future Snaps and Chats from the blocked contact and blocks them from viewing your child’s stories in the future.
To block someone who isn’t in your child’s friend list, swipe on their name on the Chat screen to open a Chat with them. Then tap the button in the top left corner to access their profile, where you can block them.
There is no sure fire way to prevent predators from contacting a child online, however taking action would remove your child from the mix of potential preys. Here are some surprisingly easy ways to keep your kids safe on social media.