Childhood and teen years are somewhat through a different lens these days. The impact of introducing technology into their hands at a young age has been to change their technical ability, but also opened a whole world up to them that previous generations could only dream about. At our fingertips, we are literally able to find the answers to life’s big questions (Thank you, Google), speak to others around the world and discover things we never would have known about before. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Youtube – they’ve opened our eyes to a much wider world. It’s an amazing powerful thing – but, with great power comes great responsibility!
Keeping our kids safe online is something which worries most parents. The prevalence of devices and different communications apps has led to a myriad of different ways that kids can be targeted by predators. However, we can’t wrap our kids up in bubble wrap, especially as they grow older, so keeping conversation lines open with them and knowing what they’re doing online is very important. Prohibition isn’t going to work, but education does.
One of the big apps that kids and teens love right now is Snapchat. You’ll likely be familiar with the filtered pictures, with dog faces, or flower crowns. The charm of Snapchat is that a picture only lasts up to ten seconds (or 24 hours if added to their story). However, as we all know, the Internet is forever. There’s nothing stopping people from screenshotting images and sharing them on other platforms. And, even if the pictures are all completely appropriate and vetted, who can see them?
A recent update to Snapchat has included the ability to share your location with your friends in real time. Snapchat has said that “Map View” is intended to give users “a whole new way to explore the world”. The update shares your location as standard. While in an ideal world, this would merely allow young people to see who is around them, we don’t live in an ideal world.
So, How Do I See What Is In Snapchat Map View?
Open Snapchat and swipe left to go to the Stories screen. Pinch inward on this screen and be careful you don’t accidentally tap on a story or suggested account. You will be taken to the Map screen.
You will see blue markers on the map for popular nearby stories though you won’t be able to view them unless you’re friends with whoever posted. This is subject to the privacy settings of the person sharing snaps.
Here’s an example of what you see. That blue and white ghost figure? That’s me. The brown is another Snapchat friend of mine who shares his location publicly. When I zoom in on him, I can see his exact location, down to the building. Those glowing blue-green spots lead to stories of others I am not friends with, but who are sharing their info publicly. By clicking on them, I’ve seen video of people’s children, young girls putting on makeup, and planes taking off. All perfectly innocent, but is it what you want ANYONE to be able to see?
So, how do you turn off this feature?
If you want to limit who can see your stories, make sure that your privacy settings are set to Friends Only.
It’s being advised that this location tracking feature is turned off if you enter Ghost Mode in the app. If the young people in your house are using it, it’s important to ensure that Ghost Mode is powered on. The level of location tracking ability is creepily close – down to being able to zoom in and see the exact house or place they are Snapping from. Unfortunately this leaves the app open to abuse from predators who may have less than good intentions for the young people they are watching.
To turn on Ghost Mode, follow these steps.
- Click on the Ghost Icon from the photo screen to get into the main menu.
- Click on the cog wheel to get into Settings
- Scroll down to Who Can and change the settings on “See My Location” to Only Me.
Alternatively, if you’ve not entered Map Mode before, your first time you enter it, it will ask if you want your location to be seen or to enter Ghost Mode.
Hopefully this will be of use to you and your family in protecting your young people while they’re online. While embracing this new technology, it’ll definitely help me (and a lot of other parents) sleep better at night knowing this update won’t compromise the safety of our kids.
For other tips on keeping young people safe with mobile devices and online, head over here.
Do your kids use Snapchat? Were you aware of this feature? Anything else I should know? Let me know in the comments, or over on Facebook.