On Tuesday, Snap, the company behind the popular messaging app Snapchat, released its first set of parental control features. These tools will let parents monitor who their children are talking to on the app, but not the content of those chats.
Launching at a time when social media companies have come under fire for lacking adequate child protection is the new feature named Family Center. 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 content.
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 teens accept an invitation to join Family Center on Snapchat, parents can examine their children's friends list and who they have messaged in the last week. Parents can invite their teens to join Family Center on Snapchat. They can also anonymously report any accounts that raise concerns.
However, according to Jeremy Voss, Snap's head of messaging products, parents won't be able to view private content or messages received to or from their teenagers.
He remarked, “It strikes the appropriate approach for improving safety and wellbeing while still protecting autonomy and privacy.”
In the upcoming months, Snapchat said it will roll out new tools, including notifications for parents when their kid reports user abuse.
Snap already had some teen protection guidelines in place before Family Center. Individuals under the age of 18 who use Snap have secret accounts by default, and users who share friends with them appear as suggested friends in search results. To sign up, users must be at least 13 years old.
The launch of Instagram's Family Center in March, which allows parents to see whose profiles their teens follow and how much time they spend on the app, was a precursor to Snap's new facilities.