Your kids or grandkids probably use Snapchat; it's the most popular app among teenagers. If they do have this app on their phone then there's an important new feature you need to be aware of.
It's called "Snap Map" and it shows exactly where users are in real time. Watch the video below or click here to see how it works.
The obvious fear is that this feature will facilitate stalking. The zoom in feature on the map is so detailed that it can show you exactly which building someone is in - your child's home, school, or any place else they go. As you can see from the picture below, the Snap Map shows that I'm at our Komando offices.
The good news is that this feature is opt-in only and not a new default setting. To access the map, users go to the screen where they record videos/snap photos. Pinch the screen with your thumb and index finger and the map opens. If a user decides to use Snap Map, there are three different modes.
- Ghost Mode - No one can see you on their map but you can see others and view stories. This is probably the safest option.
- Select Friends - Only friends on an approved list can see where you are on the map.
- My Friends - Anyone on your friends list can see where you are on their map. This is probably the least safe option.
- ** Users must approve everyone on their friends lists but if your child is "friends" on the app with strangers then these strangers can see them on the map in "My Friends" mode.
Once a mode is selected, users can choose from adding snaps to their personal stories or "Our Story," which means it could be a part of the public Snapchat story at a given location on the map.
So why would Snapchat even release such a dangerous feature? Well, it can be pretty interesting to see what's going on in other parts of the country or even the world. Can't make it to a daytime baseball game? Zoom into where the ballpark is and watch snaps from the game. Wishing you were on vacation at Disney World? Zoom into the map and see what you're missing. Or use it to explore the national museums in Washington D.C.
If you still allow your children to use this app then be sure to look at the other safety options in settings. Users can choose who can contact them through the app (everyone or my friends) and who can view their stories (everyone, my friends, or custom). To access settings, tap the icon in the top left to open the "Add Me" screen and the gear icon in the top left to open the settings menu.