Snapchat and Kids: What Parents Want to Know

Dr. Pamela Rutledge
7 min readMay 3, 2022

Parents worry about kids and social media. Snapchat is one of the most popular with kids and confusing for parents. Here are some of their questions.


  • Kids are drawn to apps where they can connect easily with friends without being spied on by parents.
  • Social media apps are designed to be psychologically engaging. It’s what makes them fun and hard to put down.
  • Social media use can be positive and negative. How you use it matters.
  • Critical thinking skills and open communication at home can keep kids safe while having fun online.

The questions I hear from parents show deep concerns about kids and social media use -especially post-pandemic. Snapchat is at the top of the list. This video and photo-sharing app raises anxiety because it is one of the most popular apps for tweens and teens. It has a lot of fun features, silly and glam filters, annotations, emojis, and augmented reality lenses, as well as locating mapping. But, unlike most other social media platforms, however, content on Snapchat expires or disappears. This makes parents super nervous. It also allows the tween or teen to feel more casual and intimate and less cautious by creating a false sense of security. Between screenshots and software hacks, nothing really disappears. Snapchat was designed to be fun, however, it can also generate pressures to maintain a snapstreak (highly valued continual exchange of snaps among friends within 24 hours), improve the snap score or look good. Unlike Instagram or TikTok, parents can’t easily see what’s going on with Snapchat. This makes it especially important to prepare your child with media literacy skills.

What makes Snapchat so popular with kids?

Snap is popular with kids because their friends are on it and their parents aren’t. The primary developmental task of tweens, teens, and young adults is to figure out who they are in relation to their social world. They are emancipating from their nuclear family and are focused on defining themselves relative to peers.

The way Snaps are shared feels more relational and less like “posting” and Snapchat has a myriad of tools that encourage personalization, personality, and…

Dr. Pamela Rutledge

Using psychology to empower positive media relationships and create content with impact and purpose.