Snapchat - Family Centre Safety Tool

Snapchat - Family Centre Safety Tool

Today is a good day in the online child safety business! Snapchat has just released a new in-app tool that will allow parents to have visibility over who their children are talking to, whilst keeping the content of the conversations private. The best way to think of it is, that you look out the window and see who your kids are playing with but you aren't listening to them chatting.

As always, having a good level of communication and ultimately trust in place will enable the use of this tool without too much extra effort, that is because you will need the consent of your child to turn this feature on. It will allow parents to see who their child has been interacting with over the previous seven days and if needed directly report any suspicious accounts to Snapchat.

This is very much the first step for Snapchat as they plan to add more features to the family centre in the future, including extra content controls and also a way for the child to notify parents when they have reported content. It should also be noted here that the minimum age for a Snapchat account is 13 and parents should be made aware of that.

I think this new feature will allow for meaningful conversations between parent and child about online safety. It will also allow for that building of trust and allow the child to be more independent. Snapchat has said, "The product was informed by a study it did with more than 9,000 teens across several platforms which found that parents and teens who were in regular conversation about the child's online activities were more likely to be trusting and to share information when they came across online risks."

There have been instances in the past of harm being caused to users of Snapchat, including the suicide of a young teen who was groomed on the platform, there was a loss of evidence because of the 'disappearing messages' feature. Snapchat will not begin to collect this evidence unless an account has been reported, with the introduction of the family centre, the reporting of those accounts becomes a simpler process.

It is good to see social media platforms continuing to make positive progress with regard to child safety online. I think a lot of this will be influenced by the continual development of the Online Safety Bill which is designed to require social media firms to tackle harmful online content.

The battle continues and hopefully we win the war!