Child Safety Warning: Snapchat Maps Update That Reveals Users' Locations

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06/07/2017 10:42am

Police forces have raised child safety concerns about a new Snapchat feature that reveals users' locations amid fears it could expose children to potential predators.

Parents have been warned to turn off the “Snap Map" feature on their children's phones after Snapchat, which is a wildly popular messaging service among teenagers, introduced the location-sharing mode this week.

On the latest version of the app, “Snap Map” can be launched by pinching the Snapchat camera home screen. From here, users can choose to share their location with all friends, some of them or none of them with “ghost mode”, which hides their location but still pinpoints the location of other users, marking them with their Bitmoji character.

While the feature has been designed to help friends meet up or attend events together it has raised fears that it could be abused. Parents are being urged to make sure their children select “ghost mode”, and not the other two options.

To help keep your children safe while using Snapchat, here are a few best-practice tips on how to keep the app safe for young users:

Review Privacy Settings

There are several options in Snapchat’s privacy settings you need to make sure are enabled on your child’s device, including the ‘My Friends’ feature, which only allows them to chat with, and be contacted by, users from their confirmed friends list. This is important, as it essentially makes them invisible to anyone who doesn’t have their username.

Password Security

Make sure your child uses a strong and secure password, and that they don’t share it with anyone. If you think someone could have gained access to their Snapchat account, change the password immediately and make sure their other social media accounts are also secure.

Personal Information

While the concept behind Snapchat is such that it’s more instant and throwaway than other social media services, it’s still important not to share personal information on the platform. Phone numbers, addresses, and financial information should never be shared on Snapchat, even among friends, so remind your child of the do’s and don’ts of what’s OK to share.

Young girl using a smartphone on the bus

Block and Report Users

If your child is receiving unwanted Snaps from other users, it’s possible to block that user and report them to the Snapchat Safety team. Visit the Snapchat Safety Centre for more help and advice on reporting inappropriate content.

Enable Device-Level Controls

Both Android and iOS devices have in-built privacy controls which let you control what type of apps your child can access and when. If you’re worried about your child’s Snapchat use, or any other social media platform, take a look at the security features of their device and consider enabling more stringent controls.

The digital world is changing all the time, and it’s vital that foster carers stay updated on how to keep their children safe online. Parents and carers are facing bigger challenges than ever in ensuring their child’s safety, but with the right help and guidance, you can help your foster children enjoy the Internet safely.

For more tips on internet safety, click here.

Interested in becoming a foster carer with the NFA? Find out how you can get involved by calling our team today on 0800 044 3030.