Story by: Kathryn Burch on September 4, 2018
If you’re a parent of a teen, chances are your child uses Snapchat, the popular social media mobile application that allows users to easily communicate with each other through disappearing pictures and unique chat features. While the app provides a fun way of instant messaging, its safety is frequently debated.
The company recently launched a new feature called “Snap Map,” which allows users to track the physical location of their friends within the app. To activate Snap Map, a user must turn off “ghost mode,” the app’s default setting, and willingly share his or her location via Snap Map.
Should a user decide to activate Snap Map, a Bitmoji (a commonly used avatar) representing him or her will appear on maps of the user’s friends, showing the user’s exact location.
“By turning on the Snap Map feature, kids are potentially giving acquaintances or strangers access to their current location, depending on who they have in their friends list,” said Chrissy Monroe, coordinator, Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness.
Snapchat Inc. reported that the map only activates while users are using the application.
Information about kids’ safety tools and resources
Monroe urges users and their parents to make safe decisions should they decide to use the map feature. If Snap Map is turned on, users are given the option of who sees their location: all of a user’s friends or select friends.
“If a user decides to activate Snap Map, he or she has the opportunity to make a safe decision by selecting which of their friends are able to view his or her location,” Monroe said.
Sharing a location can be dangerous. Make it a habit to review your child’s social media settings and ask your child to be aware of when and where they are using the map. For example, while the location service can lead people to public places, it also can show the location of your home.