- Family Center is the name of the new feature.
- Teenagers can be invited to the Family Center on Snapchat by their parents.
- Parents will have access to their kid’s friend list.
The owner of the well-known messaging app Snapchat, Snap, launched its first parental control features on Tuesday. These tools will let parents see who their kids are talking to on the app, but not the content of those conversations.
The unveiling of the new Family Center feature comes at a time when social media giants are under fire for not doing more to protect children online. In an October testimony before US lawmakers, Snap and its digital rivals TikTok and YouTube were accused of exposing young users to bullying or directing them toward inappropriate content.
Following the release of internal documents by a Facebook whistle blower that allegedly indicated the app negatively impacted some teens’ mental health and body image, Instagram also provided testimony before a Senate hearing on children’s online safety in December.
When teens accept an invitation to join Family Center on Snapchat, parents can see their child’s friends list and who they have messaged in the past few days. Parents can invite their teens to join Family Center on Snapchat. They can also confidentially report any accounts that raise concerns.
Jeremy Voss, Snap’s head of messaging products, stated in an interview that parents will not be able to view private content or messages received to and from their teens.
“It strikes the right approach for enhancing safety and well-being, while still protecting autonomy and privacy,” he said.
Snap announced that it will roll out more services in the upcoming months, such as notifications for parents when their teen reports user abuse.
Snap already had some teen protection guidelines in place prior to Family Center. Anyone under the age of 18 who use Snapchat have private profiles by default, and they only show up as a suggested friend in search results when they have friends in common with another user. To sign up, users must be at least 13 years old. The launch of Instagram’s Family Center, which enables parents to check whose profiles their teenagers follow and how much time they spend on the platform, in March was a similar move to Snap’s new tools.