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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 ( ALERTS).
  3. REPORT concerns about youth being sexually exploited online (

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: