New Snapchat Location Feature Is a New Threat to Our Children's Safety
The New Location Feature
Snapchat has debuted their new Snap Map feature that allows you to keep up with news, sporting events and celebrations all across the globe. This feature also lets you know what your 'friends' are up to if you follow each other.
This new feature as been in the trending news and has everyone talking. The typical conversations seem to lean towards catching a cheating partner, getting caught by your boss on a sick day, or having unwanted friends showing up at an event or ones place of business uninvited. But not many people are talking about how this new feature could leave our children vulnerable to predators.
Predators will 'friend' your child on social media and spend days, weeks and even months grooming the child. They will do everything possible to make your child feel comfortable with them. Even if the child never meets the stranger, many can be talked into sending inappropriate photos and messages that can be used in other ways that will also result in victimizing the child. And now we are throwing in a locator tool to make these predators even stronger.
Yes, there are options to turn off location services all together, or to just block a few people individually from seeing your location. But, how many people are really going to go through the hundreds or even thousands of friends they have on snap chat to make sure the wrong ones do not have access?
What Does This Mean for Our Children?
I have seen many people, including teens on social media putting their Snapchat contact information in their profiles just to gain more followers. Do you know how many followers your child has on each of their social media accounts, including Snapchat? Most parents have no idea what their children are sharing, what pictures they are sending, or who they are talking to.
This is the time where parents needs to step up and make clear boundaries. It's up to us individually to decide whether to take their phones in hand and turn of those location services ourselves, or to have a clear and concise talk about what is allowed and what is not. We need to let them know that people are not always who they say they are. And make a definite rule that the only people that they should turn this new feature on for are friends and family who already know where they live.
How Can We Protect Our Children?
Before you can properly protect your children from the dangers of social media, you need to understand what you are protecting them from.
- Studies show that 1 in 5 teenagers that use the internet regularly have received some sort of unwanted sexual solicitation. Only 25% of those teens told their parent.
- About 75% of internet exploitation victims are girls with the majority being between 13 - 15 years of age.
- Studies show that the typical age range of internet predators falls between 18 - 55 and their targets tend to be of children within the range of 11 - 15 years old.
- 16% of teens have considered meeting someone that they have only spoken to online. And about half of them have actually gone on to do so.
- More than 82% of online sex crimes originate from social networking sites. Predators use to these sites to gain insight into their victim’s habits and likes.
Look at all of those numbers. Those are not just statistics. They are children, they are victims. I guarantee none of the parents thought that their children would be victimized by using the internet, but it can happen to anyone. It can happen to your child.
Now is the time to set rules. Talk to your children about internet safety. Tell them exactly why you do not want them sharing their personal information with strangers. This is not something that we can shelter them from. They need to know exactly what could happen if they are not responsible with their internet and social media use.
You can also go into the app's settings and turn of the location feature all together. This is probably the safest way to protect your younger child that may not fully grasp the concept of location sharing. For older children you can allow them to specifically choose individual friends and family to share with.
Do You Monitor Your Child's Social Media Use?
© 2017 Kayla Hebert