Today, Snapchat launched Snap Map, a new feature that shares users' locations with friends in real time. Each person's locate is identified with an Actionmoji. Snapchat says on its blog that the feature will permit users to "[s]ee what's happening, find your friends, and get inspired to go on an adventure!"
Here's what parents need to know:
- Users must opt into Snap Maps.
Talk with your kids about why they think they should or should not use Snap Maps. Discuss the privacy concerns involved. Those include scammers and predators who can track where you are (or track whether you're at home). Remind kids about the dangers associated with sharing your location with those you don't know in person or know well.
Another more likely issue is someone your kids know what may be following them or even "stalking" them. Talk with your kids about how they would handle someone who was using Snap Maps to track their every move in a way that makes them uncomfortable.
- Users don't have to share their location with every single friend.
It's possible to share locations with only certain friends. This raises the question of are your kids really friends with all their friends on the app? Are these people that deserve to know where they are all the time?
- "Ghost Mode" lets users not share their location.
Make sure kids know how to use this and know that not every move needs to be shared with the world. Learn how to use it here.
- When lots of snaps are coming from one location, such as a concert, the map will know that and identify that area as a "heat spot."
Snapchat says it will inspire users to go on adventures. Talk with your kids about what adventures they are inspired to go even without Snap Maps. Remind them that doing what makes your heart happy, even if means being away from heat spots, is not only okay, it can be really awesome.
- Social media has always made it easy for kids to know who was doing what and with whom, and this will only make that easier.
Jack Brody, a product designer at Snap, told Refinery29, "This map isn't about where am I, it's about where are my friends and what are they up to? It's not about figuring out how to get to your destination, but about discovering where you want to go."
Maybe I'm just old, but that makes me want to remind kids that going your own way is good, and sometimes necessary.
"Comparison is the thief of joy" is very true, and yet has never emerged as a truism that resonates with teens. Still, it's worth repeating for them, and encouraging them to be sometimes put the phone down so that they can be truly present where they are and live in the moment.
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