Snapchat has introduced a map feature called Snap Map that lets users track other people’s location in real time, raising concerns among many parents and internet safety advocates.
What is Snap Map?
The new location feature plots users and their snaps onto a map so friends and other users can see where they are and what they are doing.
Take a look at Snapchat’s demonstration video:
Snapchat added this:
“The safety of our community is very important to us,” said a Snapchat spokesman, who added that location-sharing is off by default and “completely optional”.
“Snapchatters can choose exactly who they want to share their location with, if at all, and can change that setting at any time. It’s also not possible to share your location with someone who isn’t already your friend on Snapchat, and the majority of interactions on Snapchat take place between close friends.”
What Parents Need to Know
While Snap Map certainly sounds like a fun feature for teens and their friends the feature could make it easier for predators or stalkers to track young victims. With over 100 million users on Snapchat and 25% still not even out of high school parents need to be aware of this feature and talk to their teens about the risks. Additionally, Snapchat offers parents and users an excellent guide where they do address Snap Map directly.
One thing that didn’t seem clear to me was while Snapchat mentions sharing your location, it’s vague on what that exactly means. Users might not understand that Snapchat is posting your location on Snap Map each and every time that they open the app. Not just when a user shares a Snap to their Story.
Privacy Settings and Ghost Mode
As with any app, parents should always make sure their teens’ privacy settings are set to My Friends only. The My Friends privacy setting in Snapchat allows Snapchatters to send and receive only from Snapchatters they have added to their friends list. We recommend that parents check this privacy setting on occasion to make sure that it doesn’t get switched back to Everyone.
Additionally, If you don’t want your teen sharing their location with their friends Snapchat does have an easy solution called Ghost Mode.
Here is how you use it! To get to Snap Map open the app and head directly to the camera screen. Once there, you can open maps by pinching the camera screen with your fingers and the map screen will pop up.
While on the map screen, tap the gear icon at the top. You can enable Ghost Mode in Snapchat from the settings screen that opens. When you have Ghost Mode enabled, your location will be hidden while you use Snapchat. The app also gives you the ability pick and choose who can see your location if you want them to or to even block specific individuals.
Once a user enables Ghost Mode, their avatar’s face disappears. It is instead replaced with a blue version of the Snapchat logo which means that the user is not sharing their current location.
We always encourage an ongoing conversation with your children and teens about the risks and responsibilities involved when using apps like Snapchat. A regular reminder to them about how nothing online should ever be considered private can go a long way.
Make sure you are always using a trust-worthy parental control that will allow you to block inappropriate apps or websites in addition to giving your teen a much-needed break from some or all social media when needed!