A Parent’s Guide to Snapchat

The Snapchat revolution has taken over the mobile world. Nearly every youngster and teen is using Snapchat not only to send funny pictures of themselves looking like a puppy, but also to read the news, share opinions and interact with their surrounding culture. It is for this reason that parents need to be able to understand and be on board with this platform so they can maintain their children’s trust. This guide to Snapchat will help you stay in touch with the changing generation, and most importantly, your kids.

The Basics

When the Snapchat application opens up, the phone will ask if you want to allow the application to access your camera and photo stream. In order to use the application, you must say “Yes.” It will then ask you to make an account and link your phone number to said account. This will allow you to add friends from your contact list.

REMEMBER YOUR USERNAME AND PASSWORD. These are very important. If you log yourself off for whatever reason, you will need this information to log back in. If your phone has a notes app, store your login information there or write it down on a sticky note and put it someplace easy to remember.

Now that your account has been made and your contacts have been added, it is time to send the first selfie or image! Once you access the camera, there is an option in the upper right-hand corner to switch the camera from forward to selfie. You know you are taking a selfie when A) you can see yourself on the screen and B) the camera icon in the upper corner has a smile in the middle.

The center circle at the bottom of the screen is the picture-taking button, but there is a secret second button you can use to take selfies: the plus-volume button on the side of your phone. Using this secret button will really impress your kids. When taking a video, simply press and hold the screen button until the red recording ring around the button starts showing. In order to turn on the flash, press the lightning icon at the top left corner of the screen so the icon does not have a slash through it. If you want to turn off the flash, press the icon button again and the slash will return, indicating you have turned the flash option off.

You can change how long a picture will last for the recipient by pressing the icon in the bottom left corner that looks like a timer. You can also save your pictures by pressing the arrow icon right next to the timer icon.

How Do I Use Filters?

Once you have taken your picture, you have the ability to alter your picture with Snapchat filters. Snapchat filters are edits, or enhancements, that Snapchat provides that can be applied to your pictures.

One way to use filters is post-selfie. After you take your picture, simply swipe left or right on the screen and pick the filter you would like. Some filter options include showing the time, temperature and speed (if you have taken a video).

Other more popular filters are those you can use and interact with before and during your Snapchat. When the camera is facing you, press and hold on your face until the outline appears and options for additional filters appear at the bottom of the screen next to the picture button.

What Is a Snap Story and How Do I Use It?

Simply put, the Snap story serves as a way to broadcast the everyday events in your life. Any Snapchat can be made into a Snap story. This is also a good way to keep up to date with what your kids are doing, as kids are constantly updating their Snapchat stories.

Once you have taken a picture, an icon will pop up at the bottom left-hand corner that looks like a box with a plus sign. That is the Snap story icon. You simply press the icon and the picture you just took will immediately be part of your Snap story. Each story picture lasts 24 hours so if you want to save the picture, do so before posting it. That rule goes for all Snapchats sent out. Remember, a Snap story lasts 24 hours, but a regular Snapchat will last as long as you choose up to 10 seconds.

Once you get the hang of Snapchat, your friends will be very impressed and your kids will appreciate your willingness to get in on their trends. Now sit back, relax and enjoy taking those puppy pictures with your kids!

(Image credit Wachiwit / Shutterstock)

Milvian Prieto,a New Jersey-based writer, is on a quest to find the best apps that benefit 20-somethings and young families. She loves learning about technology and the way it impacts our lives.