New Snapchat Feature Raises Concerns For Child Safety

By: yourtown 27 Jun Blog, Kids Helpline, Parentline

Kids Helpline (KHL) is reminding parents to ‘check-in’ on their children’s social media use and privacy settings after Snapchat released its latest feature, Snap Map, over the weekend.

The new update not only allows users to share their real-time location and activities on a map, it automatically analyses their exact geographic location, time of day and speed of travel.

Unlike other social media platforms where users must manually check themselves in, Snap Map automatically updates as soon as Snapchat is opened – unless their security settings specify otherwise.

It means children could potentially share their home and school addresses without realising.

DID YOU KNOW: Snapchat is one of the top five social media platforms used by children and young people

“Although there are real benefits to children’s use of social media, unfortunately, there can be some very serious downsides,” yourtown/KHL Head of Client Services Brendan Bourke said. 

“Sharing things like their location in real-time exposes children and young people to a raft of compromising scenarios including stalking, bullying and exposure to strangers.

“We have seen a rise in instances of cyberbullying and are aware of cases where predators have narrowed down their search for children through identifying details in photographs; the risk is significantly increased through geo-tagging.”

He said it served as a timely reminder for parents to check how much personal information their children are sharing online.  

Last year nearly 2,000 referrals were made from the eSafety website to Kids Helpline

While knowing what your child is doing online every day is difficult, there are some key things parents can do to help ensure their safety. 

“It’s important to build trust and have regular conversations with your child about their use of social media but also to show you understand why their use of social media is important,” Mr Bourke said.

KHL also recommends that parents take a moment to…

  • Educate yourself: With new updates released all the time, it’s important to understand how your child is using each social media platform and what they like about them.
  • Talk security: Talk with your children about what they may be sharing online and check privacy settings are set to the strictest levels. Not only does this help protect them from unknown exposure to predators but also to viruses and scams.
  • Teach children about the permanence of the internet: Ensure your children understand that whatever is posted online creates a digital footprint and can remain there long after they have moved on.

The eSafety website has updated its own Snapchat safety guidelines to include information on Snap Map. This includes a guide to adjusting privacy settings.

 
KHL gives children and young people choices, support and someone to listen. It is Australia’s only national 24/7 counselling service specifically for children and young people aged 5 to 25 years – free call 1800 55 1800 or kidshelpline.com.au.
Parents or carers in Queensland and the Northern Territory looking for support can contact  Parentline on 1300 30 1300 or parentline.com.au.

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