Are my children safe? 4 things to consider when using Snapchat’s Snapmaps

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Snapchat is a veritable infant in the social media family. It first made its way onto our mobile phones in September 2011 and has grown rapidly ever since. Now Snapchat boasts a hefty 10 million+ in terms of daily active users, with the majority of those users being below 25. The App has become an essential platform for younger people, gone are days of texts and phone calls; If a teenager is talking to someone on their phone there is a big chance it’s through Snapchat.

 

Recently, a new feature added to the platform in a June update has caused a stir of controversy. Snap maps. Essentially, using your phones GPS sensor you can broadcast your exact location to your friends, and in turn, find out theirs. As everyone and their mother has shared their two cents, on the topic, I have decided to throw in mine.

 

  1. Safety issues?

Let’s get the big one out of the way; I think it is universally acknowledged that sharing your location with strangers on the Internet might not be the safest thing to do. With this new feature, children could be sharing their exact locations with predators or bullies, and the map could be used to aid stalkers. Even the police have released warnings telling people of how dangerous the new location sharing could be.

 

  1. It’s optional

Although the feature may lead to some safety concerns, at the end of the day it is entirely optional. Users can turn on ‘Ghost mode’ that removes your location from the snap map. Furthermore, by default, the feature is off, until the users choose to activate it. No one is being forced to do anything they don’t want, and people can continue snapping away without having to broadcast your home address.

 

 3. Oversharing?

We now live in a society where if it’s not online it didn’t happen. People are feeling more and more pressured into sharing every aspect of their life with people online. But is sharing your exact location going a bit too far?

 

  1. It’s not all about location

The feature itself doesn’t exist for the sole purpose of revealing where you are at all times, it also shows live events all around the world and the snaps people have shared from those events. It helps people know what’s going on around them. With social media ironically making people less social in person, could this new feature be encouraging users to go out and see physically around them; step out of their cyberspace?

It can’t be denied that Snap maps might not be the safest feature, but as with the many platforms and features that have preceded it, there will always be some safety concerns when it comes to social media. The important thing is to be conscious of what you make public and to be careful online.

By Jake Marshall.

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