Being a teenager is hard and being a teenager on social media can be even more difficult. To protect the safety of teens who use Snapchat, the company unveiled a new in-app tool to help parents monitor what their kids are up to while they’re communicating online.
“Family Center” will help parents get more insight into who their teens are friends with on Snapchat, and who they have been communicating with, without revealing any of the details of those conversations.
“Family Center is designed to reflect the way that parents engage with their teens in the real world, where parents usually know who their teens are friends with and when they are hanging out – but don’t eavesdrop on their private conversations,” parent company Snap said in a statement.
Starting today, parents over age 25 will have some interesting ways to check in on their teens ages 13 – 18 (Snapchat doesn’t allow kids younger than 13 to create an account). Parents can see which friends their kids have sent messages, photos or videos to in the last seven days without being able to read those conversations. They can also view a complete list of all their child’s friends.
What’s great is that parents can confidentially report any accounts they are concerned about directly to Snap’s Trust and Safety teams. That means kids will be protected round-the-clock while they use the app.
Plus, the company will give parents and teens extra resources so they can have open conversations about online safety.
The process seems simple enough. An adult needs an active Snapchat account of their own, so either log into your account or create a new one. You can access Family Center by using the search bar in the top left corner of the camera screen by searching words like “safety,” “family” or “parent;” or head to the Settings section in the top right corner of your profile.
The parent must send an invite for Family Center to their child, and then the teen must accept it.
Moving forward, there are more updates planned in the coming months, such as new content controls for parents and the ability for teens to notify their parents when they themselves report an account or a piece of content.
“While we closely moderate and curate both our content and entertainment platforms, and don’t allow unvetted content to reach a large audience on Snapchat, we know each family has different views on what content is appropriate for their teens and want to give them the option to make those personal decisions,” the statement said.
Parents can learn more about how the Family Center will work.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation issued a statement applauding Snapchat’s efforts since it has been deemed a dangerous platform.
“We’re thrilled that Snap has finally launched a much-needed toolset giving parents and caregivers greater oversight and insight into their children’s use of Snapchat – something for which NCOSE and our allies have been advocating for years. We’re grateful to Snap for these improvements and strongly encourage anyone who has a teen on Snapchat to take advantage of them,” said Lina Nealon, director of corporate and strategic initiatives.
NCOSE suggested even more ways Snapchat could protect minors, such as blurring or blocking explicit images and blocking or removing those accounts; using technology to identify “suspicious adults” and further prevent them from reaching minors; and providing resources to parents and children about sexting, child sex abuse material and sex trafficking.
Teens shouldn’t worry too much, though – Snap is still committed to keeping their privacy private and making the platform fun to use. Plus, the teens can see what their parents see in a “mirrored” view. This is just an extra layer of security in an ever-changing web-based world.