For Some Parents, Snapchat Usage Is a Concern

Facebook and Instagram trigger less apprehension

When it comes to teens and their social media activities, parents worry. And of the many major social networking apps out there, parents have expressed the most concern about their teens using Snapchat.

In fact, an October 2017 survey by Common Sense Media showed that 29% of respondents named Snapchat as the app that they were most concerned about. Common Sense Media surveyed US parent internet users with teenagers ages 14 to 17.

Facebook and Instagram did not garner as much concern. Just 16% of parents said they were most worried about their kids using Facebook, while 6% said the same about Instagram.

So what is it about Snapchat that makes parents feel so uneasy?

It’s likely the same thing that draws teens to the platform in the first place. “Teens prefer Snap because of its visual nature and its one-to-one messaging capability,” said Jane Buckingham, founder of consumer insights firm Trendera. “Instagram represents the face teens want to present to the world, even if it’s not necessarily the real face. Facebook is a place to catch up with everyone and get access to a wide group of people that they may not talk to on a regular basis.”

Interestingly, while the concern for Snapchat is evident, Common Sense Media found that a good number of parents follow their kids’ activity on Facebook, more so than other platforms like Snapchat and Instagram.

The study also revealed that 34% of parents believe that their teens have hidden accounts online, but just 27% of teens surveyed said that is the case.

Meanwhile, teens seem to think their parents are more trusting than they actually are. Only 15% of teens surveyed think their parents track their activity online. However, more than a quarter (26%) of parents said they use monitoring devices to find out what their teens are doing online.

Despite parents’ concerns, Snapchat's popularity among teens continues to increase. According to a Piper Jaffray survey of US teens with an average age of 16 conducted in fall 2017, 47% of respondents said they prefer Snapchat over other social media platforms. That was up 8 percentage points from spring 2017.

And a recent eMarketer forecast found that Facebook is losing younger users at an even faster pace than previously expected. And Snapchat may now be siphoning away more users.