If your child uses Snapchat, you will want to know about the new maps feature on the app which can allow your child’s friends to know where they are.
Safety experts have warned the new map feature on Snapchat could potentially be used as a tool to stalk or bully others.
Childnet International wrote in a blogpost, “Given how specific this new feature is on Snapchat – giving your location to a precise pinpoint on a map – we would encourage users not to share their location, especially with people they don’t know in person.”
Most users of Snapchat will only chat with close friends, however, there are mixed reports on whether strangers are able to add your child as a friend, without them knowing.
With this information in mind, safety experts are advising parents to sit with their children and explain the ramifications of sharing their location with friends.
The Guardian reports, Larry Magid, the CEO of ConnectSafely.org, to have said, “It is important to be careful about who you share your location with, as it can allow people to build up a picture of where you live, go to school and spend your time.
“Parents need to sit down with their kids and get them to really consider which friends they are sharing with.
“Users should be aware of the feature and review it periodically – if a friend becomes an ex-friend, for example.”
The power is still in the hands of the user to allow their location to be shared with other Snapchat users.
A Snapchat spokesman advised, “The safety of our community is very important to us,” confirming the location-sharing is off by default and “completely optional”.
When users first use the feature, Snapchat will guide the user on whether they would like their location to be visible to all, a select group of friends or only me. “Ghost mode” is what Snapchat refers to when users who don’t share their location with others.
The discoverability tool has been described as a fun feature that can share what is happening globally. If there is breaking news from a particular location, people can document it on Snapchat. A patch of colour will appear on the map showing the hotspot.
“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,” advised the Snapchat spokesman.
Location tracking is not a new feature on social media. Facebook allows users to check-in or share their location, while Twitter allows people to insert their locations in tweets.
The map part of Snapchatt can be accessed when users open the app and zoom out of the screen. This displays a map of the local area. The visibility of a Snapchatter’s location can be changed to visible or ‘ghost mode’ in the app’s settings.
To stop Snapchat for knowing your location altogether, you must go into your iPhone Settings, locate Snapchat and swipe for the location data to never be shared.
The new feature is still something parents and kids need to understand if they use Snapchat to keep in touch with friends.