Just when we were finally getting our heads around Snapchat, now the world’s most popular photo messaging app has added a new feature – cutely named Snap Map – that allows users to share their precise location. And parents are rightly concerned.
Designed to make it easy to meet up with friends, Snap Map allows users to share their exact location on an interactive map with their friends every time they open the app. But this interactive map is so detailed that you can track a user to the exact house in a street!
What Is Snap Map?
Snap Map is intended to help users see what’s going on in the world in real time via a virtual map. Users can easily locate their friends on this map as well as view events and snaps from around the world. Snapchat is clearly trying to lose its title as a ‘secret messaging app’ and create an interactive online community.
So, What’s The Fuss About?
In short – Snap Map affects users’ privacy. Without realising it, users may be sharing their exact location (via an Actionmoji) which could potentially expose them to predators. And with a significant proportion of users under the age of 18… well, you can see why parents are feeling a little stressed.
In their defence, Snapchat has made it clear that users do need to provide their consent and actively opt-in to be visible on Snap Map. And while I commend them for this, social media-thirsty teens don’t always think of the consequences of consenting to the latest must-have apps and add-ons. Risk is not always top of mind!
What Do Users Need To Do?
1. Download the latest version of Snapchat
Since the feature you need is only available in the latest version of the app, update your app so you can disable Snap Map.
2. Activate Ghost Mode
I strongly recommend that you ensure your kids’ phones are set to Ghost Mode, which means their location will NOT be shared. So here’s how to do it:
- First, launch Snap Map by pinching the Snapchat camera home screen like you’re zooming out from a photo.
- It then gives you the option of sharing your location. You can choose to share your location with all your friends, some of them, or none of them by activating Ghost Mode.
3. Consider turning off Location Services
Obviously, Ghost Mode is definitely the safer option as other users won’t be able to see your whereabouts. However, don’t forget Snapchat can still track your location. If you want to make sure this just can’t happen, you need to turn off location services in your phone’s Settings. Simply select Snapchat, click on Location and choose never to share. Or disable them altogether – even better!
4. Don’t forget Facebook and Apple
Facebook and Apple both offer a location-based friend finding add-on that comes with the exact same privacy concerns. Facebook’s Nearby Friends allows you to quickly locate your friends, as does Apple’s Find My Friends. Please use these with caution.
Finding a teen in 2017 who doesn’t have Snapchat is a little like the search for a four-leafed clover. Very rare! Like it or not, Snapchat and its friends Instagram and Facebook form a very big part of their world. So, figuring out a way to work with your teen to make their experiences on Snapchat as safe as possible is the name of the game here. Explain the risks, show them how to activate Ghost Mode, and then monitor very closely.
And don’t forget to download Snapchat yourself. Remember, it’s all about developing some ‘tech cred’ so your teen will be more likely to come to you if they have an issue. Just another thing for your to-do list, folks!