A new feature that was announced by Snapchat last week has parents worried because it allows for location tracking of users. Because the feature makes locating and communicating with friends easier as well as allowing users around to find out what other are up to, internet safety experts say it may be a cause of worry for parents.
“[Location sharing] can be dangerous, because you are giving up your privacy, which is your right to be where you are without others knowing where you are,” said Larry Magid, the chief executive officer of ConnectSafely.org.
In order to get the new feature from Snapchat, all that users are required to do is to update their app. Users are then required to indicate whether their location should be shared or not. If users opt for it to be shared they are then required to indicate whether that should be shared with all friends or just specific friends.
The location-sharing technology, however, is not limited to Snapchat as other firms such as Apple and Facebook Messenger already allow users to opt in or out. The worry of parents is that with such technology, children could be giving their location information to people who may end up causing them harm. As a solution, Magid urges parents to get involved with their children’s social media activities and let them know the dangers they are exposing themselves to. Magid further advices parents to encourage their kids to be particular with who they share their information with on location and to make sure the children only share such information with real life trusted friends and not people they only know via the internet.
Social media pressure
Another danger posed by the update is that the Snap Map feature may make some children feel like their lives are not as fulfilling or as exciting as those of their peers since through it there is a danger of an appearance of what everyone else is doing being more fun or cool.
In order to ease concerns that parents might have, Snapchat has reiterated that the location-sharing feature is by default off and is only activated when users opt in. Sharing of location also only happens with those people a user is friends with and not any other person. Snapchat also clarified that Snap Map was not constantly updating the location as that only happened when users were perusing the app.