Snapchat Will Now Let You See Just What Your Kids Are Up to Online

snapchat safety features family centre

Online privacy and safety is a huge concern for most parents nowadays. Being able to monitor and see what they’re up to in the digital realm, in a respectful and educational fashion, is a role that no other generation of parents has ever had to deal with.

Snapchat has made that practice just a bit easier with their new ‘Family Centre’ feature. The service will be released across the world in the coming weeks to help parents see exactly who their children are chatting with on the app.

According to the press team, the update doesn’t let parents “eavesdrop on their private conversations” and requires the consent of both parties to work.

“Family Centre is designed to reflect the way that parents engage with their teens in the real world, where parents usually know who their teens are friends with and when they are hanging out – but don’t eavesdrop on their private conversations. In the coming weeks, we will add a new feature that will allow parents to easily view new friends their teens have added,” they write.

Family Centre will “help parents get more insight into who their teens are friends with on Snapchat, and who they have been communicating with, without revealing any of the substance of those conversations”.

Snapchat is one of the most popular social media apps amongst young people, allowing them to share disappearing photos, videos, and chat with their friends.

It’s an app that seemingly grew out of the desire for privacy in the age of the eternal internet – geared towards those who want to share risqué images and activities that won’t end up getting them fired or humiliated online.

The company has come under fire in recent years, though, due to its popularity with young people, with critics saying it hasn’t been doing enough to safeguard its impressionable user base.

Snapchat has been hit by a number of controversies, not least of all the fact that people selling drugs and other illicit items are prevalent on the site, appearing to gear their business towards young people. In addition, there have long been fears of online grooming and child sexual exploitation due to the anonymous nature of the app.

US Democrat Senator Debbie Wasserman has been working with parents whose children have died from drugs bought on Snapchat. She has said that while the new feature is a “step forward,” more still needs to be done.

“Parents should be able to know more than just the name with whom their child is communicating,” she told NBC News.

“Snapchat and other platforms are not a substitute for parents’ need to keep their children safe”

In response to the revelations about drug dealing on its platform, Snapchat implemented a number of user privacy features that make it much harder to find teenage users of the site. Teens have to have mutual friends before they can communicate with each other, friend lists and profiles are private for the age group, and those without connections to a user can’t find them through search without having a mutual link.

It’s an ethically tricky problem to have, however. The new feature does seem to be attempting to walk the line between child safety and overbearing parenting. Online monitoring is a bit of a double-edged sword, particularly in instances of child abuse or simple privacy rights for children.

Family Centre also lets parents report suspicious accounts their kids may be chatting to while further features designed to “empower parents and teens in a way that still protects a teenager’s autonomy and privacy” are set to be added in the next few months.

Related: Why You Shouldn’t Share Back to School Photos of Your Children Online

Related: Aussie Company Launches Safety App That Will Alert Your Mates If You’re In Trouble

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