On Tuesday, Snap, the developer behind the well-known messaging app Snapchat, released its first set of parental control features. These tools will let parents monitor who their children are chatting to on the app, but not the content of those chats.
Launching at a time when social media firms have come under fire for lacking adequate child safety is the new feature dubbed Family Centre. In an October testimony before US legislators, Snap and its digital rivals TikTok and YouTube were accused of exposing young users to bullying or directing them toward inappropriate material.
Following the release of internal papers by a Facebook whistleblower that allegedly indicated the app negatively impacted some kids’ mental health and body image, Instagram also provided testimony before a Senate hearing on children’s online safety in December.
When adolescents accept an invitation to join Family Centre on Snapchat, parents may examine their children’s friends list and who they have messaged in the last week. Parents can ask their teens to join Family Centre on Snapchat. They may also anonymously report any accounts that raise concerns.
However, according to Jeremy Voss, Snap’s director of messaging products, parents won’t be able to access private information or messages received to or from their teenagers.
The appropriate balance between preserving liberty and privacy and improving safety and well-being, he added.
In the next months, Snap said it would roll out new tools, like as alerts for parents when their kid reports user abuse.
Snap already had certain adolescent safety guidelines in place before Family Centre. Individuals under the age of 18 who use Snapchat have secret accounts by default, and users who share friends with them appear as recommended friends in search results. To join, users must be at least 13 years old.
The advent of Instagram‘s Family Centre in March, which allows parents to see whose profiles their teenagers follow and how much time they spend on the platform, was a precursor to Snap’s new capabilities.