Snapchat launched its first parental control center on Tuesday, nearly ten months after a company executive told Congress that the company was working on tools to help parents keep their teens safe.
The new Family Center tool promises to provide parents with more information about who their teenagers are communicating with on the messaging app — without revealing the content of those conversations. Parents must set up their own Snapchat account, and teens must opt in and grant permission to use the feature.
“Family Center is designed to reflect how parents engage with their teens in the real world, where parents usually know who their teens’ friends are and when they are hanging out — but don’t eavesdrop on their private conversations,” the company wrote in a blog post.
Following concerns raised last fall by a Facebook whistleblower about the company’s impact on younger users, executives from Snapchat’s parent company, YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram were grilled by Congress about the steps they take to protect teens.
Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Commerce Committee’s consumer protection subcommittee expressed concern that social media platforms were being used to harm children and promote destructive behaviors such as school vandalism, lethal viral challenges, bullying, eating disorders, and manipulative influencer marketing. Snap’s VP of global public policy, Jennifer Stout, told Congress that “there is more work to be done” and that the company was developing new parental tools to help protect young users.
In recent months, several apps have added new features to improve parental controls and protections for younger users. Instagram, for example, has launched tools that allow parents to see which accounts their children follow or are followed by, as well as how much time they spend on the apps.
While this is Snapchat’s first foray into parental controls, it already had a few safety measures in place for young users, such as requiring teens to be mutual friends before they can communicate with one another and prohibiting them from having public profiles.
Read more; HOW APPLE WANTS AIRPODS TO HELP SAVE YOU FROM ROAD MISHAPS
Snap plans to expand Family Center’s features in the coming months. Parents will be able to see which new friends their teens have added, they will be able to confidentially report concerning accounts that may be interacting with their child, and younger users will be able to notify their parents when they report an account or piece of content. The company stated that when developing the features, it consulted with online safety experts.