As the younger generation becomes more accustomed to the world of social media, Lincolnshire Reporter has looked into whether Snapchat’s new Snap Map feature is putting our kids at risk.
Snapchat is an app which enables users to add ‘friends’ and send photos or ‘snaps’ to one another. A person can add a person and accept without necessarily knowing them.
Child protection charity the NSPCC found that 36% of young people had added someone online that they did not know in the last six months.
What is the new feature?
Snapchat’s new feature, Snap Map, enables users to share their location with everyone on their Snapchat contacts list.
This can be done to such a precise degree that is possible to tell what part of a building a user is in.
The feature also displays if the user is travelling in a car or listening to music.
However, what is not always commonly known is that this can be turned off using the ‘ghost mode’ setting.
The NSPCC is currently calling on government to force social networks such as Snapchat to offer safe accounts to under 18s – with location settings, such as this, switched off as default.
Keeping people safe
A warning has been issued for children not to broadcast their location on Snapchat, amid concern it could leave users vulnerable to grooming, stalking and bullying.
NSPCC child safety online expert Rose Bray said:
“Even limiting Snap Maps to the ‘friends only’ setting is risky if those contacts include people you don’t know.
“This highlights why it’s vital government forces social networks to offer safe accounts to under 18s, with the highest privacy settings and location settings locked off.
“It’s important parents have regular conversations with young people about staying safe online, and making sure that they know how to protect their privacy.”
Assistant Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police Shaun West added: “Social media or any other application that display locations should be carefully considered.
“I would advocate whenever apps and social media accounts are opened and used some real thought goes into sharing location and other personal details.”
“Once your information is published on social media, depending on privacy settings, anyone may be able to see and share it.
“Certainly sharing your location highlights unnecessary risks for safety.
“Stalking steals lives, please don’t make it easy for stalkers to steal your private information to that end too.”
A spokesperson for Snapchat said: “The safety of our community is very important to us.
“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.”
The new feature seems to have had mixed reactions, with members of Facebook group You’re Probably From Lincoln If… having very different opinions.
Karen Little said: “It’s turned off for my children and they have private accounts. Child grooming is an issue on social media hence I have total control of who they link with.
“Sad times but it can be used for harm.”
However, Bex Harrison said: “It’s a bit of fun. I don’t understand all the moaning about it when you can just turn it off.”
Richard Adams added: “The thing to remember is bad people use the internet to and young people don’t really understand ‘bad people’.
“It’s our responsibility as adults to guide them and warn of dangers.”
Rachel Smith commented: “I think it’s fun but a little bit creepy.
“I’ve set mine to friends so I know that it’s people that I know.
“I think people forget that there’s is an option and you don’t have to have it on public but in terms of children/young teenagers they should be careful and set it to select friends.”
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments or by emailing [email protected]