A new SnapChat feature could allow predators to see where your teen lives, where he goes to school, or her favorite hang outs. SnapMaps uses the GPS signal on smart phones to pinpoint users’ locations and identifies their location on a map. This map is visible to all the user’s friends and followers. Furthermore, users’ locations are updated each time the app is opened– not just when they share stories or send Snaps.
You might not mind a close friend knowing your teen’s location. Unfortunately, though, due to the prestige of having high numbers of social media followers, more and more teens are adding people they’ve never met in person. These virtual “friends” may not be who they say they are and could use SnapMaps to track your teen. The SnapMap locator is highly accurate, and can even identify which building the user is in.
The police in Muskegon Heights, Michagon, spoke to the local news about the new SnapChat feature. “We want young people, adults as well as underage people to be careful telling people where you are, especially when you’re going to be alone or in an isolated place.” You can read the whole news story here.
The Canadian Centre for Child Protection recommends parents remind teens of the dangers of sharing one’s location online as well as allowing people they don’t know off-line access to their social media profiles. Their comments, featured in Canadian news site thestar.com are available here.
As social media grows, online street smarts are more important than ever! When evaluating social media platforms, parents should carefully research the features of each app. What seems like an innocent feature can have horrifying implications!
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