SnapChat Targets Tweens with SnapKidz – Hide your kids, hide your wife, hide your husband…

Snapchat has yet to show any signs of self-destructing. In fact, it’s blowing up. Nielsen recently reported that Snapchat had more than 8 million unique users in May 2013 with adults on Nielsen’s U.S. panel accessing the app on average 34 times that month. Snapchat now sees 200 million snaps exchanged per day, up from 60 million in February. According to my good friend Jennifer Van Grove at CNET, that places Snapchat in the league of the majors. Facebook for example,sees 350 million photo uploads per day.

The young company also recently snapped up $60 million from Institutional Investment Partners at an $800 million valuation. Yes, it’s close to joining the billion dollar club. In this round, the company’s cofounders, Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, reportedly sold personal shares in a secondary offering at $20 million or $10 million each.

Now You See Me, Now You Don’t – From SnapChat to SnapKidz

As the network continues to mature, it must explore new tools and services to help ease concerns of a provocative subculture that knows no age limit. To do so, SnapChat introduced SnapKidz, an age-gated version for honest users (aka kids or tweens) under 13. I shared some of my thoughts on the new app with Joanna Stern over at ABC News. I’ve shared part of the discussion below…

SnapKidz is a clever app and an even more ingenious solution to address Generation Z. SnapKidz is embedded within Snapchat and unlocks automatically when children indicate that their age is in fact under 13. The modified app however doesn’t allow younger children to share pictures however. But, they’re permitted to capture pictures and add captions and drawings to each. I’m sure it’s fun in its own way and of course, kids will find a way to share them. They will not self-destruct however.

Generation Z is an important market for the future of mobile and social networking. If we thought that Millennials were digital natives, Generation Z will make everyone blush. Providing them with an app is part branding and part CYA. While popular, Snapchat is also synonymous with adult-like interactions that really are meant to self-destruct. To comply with COPPA (the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act), Snapchat offers a proactive age-gate fix for kids interested the app with safety nets built in for those who tell the truth. This is noteworthy and important. Not only are kids prevented from sharing, they are also protected from receiving explicit content from older kids and adults.

While I believe that many children will use the app, I also believe that kids will be kids. The appeal of Snapchat isn’t the ability to take pictures and caption or draw on them. The attraction is the self-destruct feature which naturally begets curiosity.

Be warned however. Treat Snapchat as if the pictures you share can find a way online. There are always interesting ways discovered to take a screenshot of a supposedly self-destructing picture. My advice here is to parents…please check your kid’s phones. They need supervision and guidance. And, parents also need to be aware. Just because they don’t understand this world doesn’t excuse the fact that these new worlds exist. Let’s not forget that Instagram is taking off among Generation Z not because it was “safe,” but instead because parents initially mistook the thriving social network as a simple camera app.

Yes…you can find me on Snapchat.


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  • B.Brittain-Marshall

    Interesting evolution of SnapChat. Hoping we can come up with an alternative to “generationZ.” Will it be the last generation? Perhaps “Snappers” or my fav of “IZoners.”

  • Amy

    This is a very interesting move by SnapChat, because the whole point of the app was that the images would self-destruct after a specified amount of time. I agree with your thought that kids will be kids, and SnapChat is appealing to people because the photos have a time limit. I think the bigger, underlying issue is the fact that apps are being made to cater to kids under 13. It makes sense, because many kids that young are already starting to have smartphones. While SnapKidz is one example, it is the increase in the number of children with smartphones in general that is dramatically changing the atmosphere of social media.

  • Steve Freeman

    Now, more then ever parents need to have “the talk” with their kids. Given how technology has changed, and continues to change, children must understand just how vulnerable they are. I can see how children can expose themselves, literally, by others daring them. Any screen capture program can freeze that photo.

    Yes gen Z is going to put us to shame in terms of their use of social networking. All gen’s before them need to take the responsibility to train Z on how to stay safe.

    Question what comes after Z do we, like hurricanes, start the alphabet over again? Just asking.

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  • Nathan Robertson

    The greatest handicap to “SnapKidz” is the fact that there is no power to share within the app itself. Gen Z, or “The iGeneration”, won’t be satisfied with the child-lock. They’ll share their photos through other private channels, nullifying the value of the app.

    This also doesn’t do much to change the company’s negative association with mature content. If I was a parent, I would be wary of any spin-off of SnapChat.

    Here’s a thought though: What if SnapKidz got into schools by creating private servers for different districts? For research, the company could find an elementary school to integrate SnapKidz into its curriculum for homework, group projects and multimedia assignments. Children would only be able to log into the school’s server on the app, limiting their interactions to their classmates. In theory, SnapKidz for that elementary school would be like Facebook once was for Harvard– exclusive. If effective, the company could begin branching SnapKidz out nationally

    This solution would allow children to share content, and be more effectively shielded from SnapChat predators. Additionally, it would be phase one in re-branding SnapKidz as an family-friendly education app– and I’m sure schools would pay good money for a server to be set up if they saw it as beneficial.

    Just a thought though: I’m curious what you think Brian.

    • briansolis

      Very interesting thoughts Nathan. I would love to see something like this come together.

    • Nathan Robertson

      Absolutely; thanks for your feedback. I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts!

    • janeecekeller

      I agree, and I think something like Edmodo almost fills that gap but would love to hear from someone who’s used it if my understanding is right.

  • Briana Lyn Delaney

    The modified app however doesn’t allow younger children to sure pictures however. SURE? Did you mean share?

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  • Aimee Giese

    Not a fan of Snapchat, but I keep reading about it to keep updated (for me and my 12.5 year old). Thanks for the info.

    • briansolis

      You’re welcome.


Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. He is an avid keynote speaker and award-winning author who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation.

His most recent book, What's the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. In 2009, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.

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