Last month Snapchat unveiled a new feature that has serious security implications for the welfare of your kids. As one of the top five social media platforms used by kids, the upgrade has raised serious safety concerns – and rightly so, as Snapchat now reveals a user’s exact location with everyone on their “friends” list.
The update now sees Snapchat leverage your location data in a whole new way, and it’s understandably got a lot of people freaked out. The new feature known as Snap Map tracks your current location and places it on a map like a pin. Others can zoom in and find exactly where you, or more concerning, where your kids are, down to the street address, the time of day and the speed of travel. It’s sort of like Apple’s Find My Friends and Facebook’s Live Locations feature – only on Snapchat, which has fast become so popular with teens.
Obviously, Snapchat sees Snap Map as a fun and convenient way to connect with friends. But for plenty of people, the new feature is just plain creepy. Some worry about the “stalker factor,” particularly for Snapchat’s younger users, who might not fully grasp the implications of a technology that constantly broadcasts their location. It’s different from other apps, as you don’t have to check in your location; it is automatically updated as soon as the app is open.
The good news is that now you know about it, you can ensure that your kids opt out. The upgrade automatically takes effect when you update the app, and therefore it is easy for it to go unnoticed. To turn of the new updated function, go into your child’s Snapchat account and follow these steps:
- Open the app and immediately scroll down.
- Click on the settings button (the gear icon) in the top right hand corner.
- Scroll down and under the “Who Can …” section, click on “See my location”.
- Turn on “Ghost Mode”.
If the settings are not visible, you may need to pinch the screen when the camera is open in the app to access it.
It is imperative to do this on your child’s Snapchat account as soon as possible and to talk with other parents to ensure they are aware of the this potentially dangerous Snapchat update.
As always, I also suggest that you discuss the dangers with your kids, so they are fully aware of the potential threats and why as parents we care. It’s also a timely reminder that they really should only be friends with people online that we actually know!