Social Network Spotlight: Snapchat

Snapchat is a unique photo sharing social network. Users are able to send photos and videos that “expire” in a chosen amount of time. The app is based around a friend list where users can send and receive photos and videos either publicly or privately.

The premise of Snapchat is that once photos and videos expire, they are unable to be saved or viewed ever again. However, certain applications, along with the ability to “jailbreak” iPhones, allows otherwise.


  • Simple to setup and use.
  • Users are able to send and receive fun photos and videos with friends.
  • Keeping a private friends list is easily achieved with just one click.
  • Assuming photos and videos sent and received are appropriate, it’s one of the quickest ways to share experiences with others.
  • Users are alerted if a screenshot is taken of a photo they’ve sent.


  • There are multiple ways to “cheat” Snapchat’s screenshot security and to save photos.
  • If an account is not set to private, users still can receive photos from any user.

  • Users expect their photos to never be seen again, so they’re likely much more willing to share something inappropriate.
  • Because such a small amount of information is required for setup, accounts can be made and used to harass others.

  • One of the most popular uses of Snapchat is to send nude photos.
  • Many users create anonymous accounts to exchange nude/inappropriate photos with anyone willing to reciprocate.


Tips for educators

  • Keep Snapchat accounts locked down.  Make sure, under the “WHO CAN…” menu in settings, “Send Me Snaps” and “View My Story” are set to “Custom.”
  • The main screen shows any activity to and from the user.

    • View the Snapchat Index for an explanation of symbols on the home screen.
  • Snapchat photos are quick to erase, so focus on making sure students are using the app in an appropriate manner. Chances are you won’t catch what photos/videos are being sent and received.
  • Important links:

Wrap Up

It’s no secret that Snapchat is the go-to app for sending and receiving nude photos and other inappropriate subject matter. The idea that content disappears quickly after being viewed, entices many users to be inappropriate. Keep in mind, however, that a private account where all users are personal friends and no secrets are kept from adults, can be a great, fun way for students to share moments of their lives with friends.