Last month Snapchat hit the news, admittedly for the wrong reasons, after updating their map feature. The changes to the feature meant that users could track other people’s location in real time, essentially creating the ultimate stalker app which has caused people concerns over child protection and privacy.
These Snap Maps plot users on their streets, to the level of accuracy you can see what house they are in, to allow people to see where they are and what they’re doing.
As with everything, when you first sign up to use this feature you do have the option to choose your level of security: you can make your location visible to everyone, just friends or no one (aka ghost mode). However, for many they may be unaware of what the options mean, and therefore do not choose wisely.
Whilst this is arguably not a good idea for anyone, there are specific concerns about the impact this could have for youngsters, and cyber bullying. Allowing potentially anyone to find you, opens up a whole series of potential issues that youngsters are unlikely to initially contemplate, raising child safety concerns.
It is vital, now more so than ever, that parents take the time to talk to their children about the need to be safe online, and ensure they know who they are sharing private information with. It is also worth considering the importance of reviewing who access to this information, especially with the younger generations when friends can very easily become ex-friends, and cause problems.
What exactly is Snapchat?
If you’ve been reading this, but have no idea what we’re talking about, then here is our easy to follow, judgment free guide to precisely what Snapchat has to offer.
Snapchat is a mobile app that allows users to share videos and pictures (aka snaps) to their friends, which self destruct shortly after being viewed. One of the best features is the ability to edit images with filters, lenses and captions; all of which can be added to your “story” which will be viewable for 24 hours.
Admittedly, it started off as a way for people to sext without fear of images being shared without their knowledge, but it’s safe to say the app has developed far more than this over the last six years. Stories compel people to view them – if you don’t do it in 24 hours, you’ll miss your chance, and who’s to say what you might have missed out on?
Although everyone can (and many do) use Snapchat, the target audience is teens and young adults. Whilst you, as a parent, may be happy enough lurking on Facebook your younger children are unlikely to hang out there. After all, that’s where you are. No doubt they’ll have an account they keep up to date for your benefit, but the fun is happening elsewhere.
Snapchat is a fun and quirky messaging app, which is easy to use. In fact, it is so easy it can appear complicated! The good news is that no matter where you are, you’re never far from someone who can show you the ropes.