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Snapchat Maps Putting Youth At Risk Of Predators

A new map feature of the popular Snapchat photo-messaging app has some police and privacy advocates concerned that predators could use the app to get a dangerous amount of information about children.

Snap Maps allows users to display their location on a map and share it with select friends, by placing their avatar in a specific location on the map. However, on its lowest privacy settings, this feature is designed to broadcast your location – right down to the street you’re walking on or the building you might be in – to everyone on your friends list whenever you open the app.

In this Facebook Video, the Brockville Police shows you how you can watch a stranger’s video if that user has publicly uploaded it using Snapchat’s “Our Story” feature.   They then explain that masking your location is a simple fix by clicking on your avatar or “bitmoji” on the Snap Map and switch to “ghost mode.”  Please watch:

What Can Parents Do About the Snapchat Photo-Messaging App Map?

  • Set your account and your childrens’ accounts to “ghost mode” so no one can access their location.
  • Be aware of what your children are doing online and try out the apps beforehand.
  • Advise your kids not to accept friend requests from anyone they don’t know in person.
  • Discuss the potential dangers of giving out too much information online.

Related Tips & Resources:

How to create a safe digital world for your teen:

  1. TALK TO YOUR TEEN about ways to be safe online.
  2. STAY INFORMED about concerning technology trends (Cybertip.ca ALERTS).
  3. REPORT concerns about youth being sexually exploited online (Cybertip.ca).

The following are a few tips from MediaSmarts about talking to your teen about harassing messages or requests that make them feel uncomfortable:

  • Talk to your teen about healthy relationships and the importance of not feeling pressured into doing things they don’t want to do – such as taking explicit pictures of themselves. There are numerous other ways of showing someone how much you care, which don’t imply pressuring one’s partner to engage in risky behaviours.
  • Tell your teen to talk to a trusted adult if they are being pressured or sexually harassed by anyone.
  • Remind them that if they forward or post a sexually provocative picture they can be held legally responsible for their actions.
  • Warn your teen that there are people online who target adolescents to engage in sexual conversations.
  • Talk to them about why adults having sex or forming romantic relationships with underage adolescents is wrong.
  • Help them recognize grooming tactics – does an online friend seem too perfect?
  • Make it clear to them that if he or she wishes to meet a virtual friend in person, it must be in the presence of a trusted adult.
  • Younger adolescents should share their instant messaging or social networking passwords with their parents. The parent should only access their accounts in the event of a problem.

Related Resources: