On Tuesday, Snap Inc. (SNAP.N), the company behind the well-known messaging app Snapchat, released its first set of parental control features. These tools will equip parents with monitoring who their children are talking to on the app without disclosing the content of those conversations.
Snap had already established some protection guidelines before issuing the Family Center. Users under the age of 18 that use Snapchat were set to have private profiles by default, and users who share friends with them appear as suggested friends in search results. However, during testimony in October, Snap Inc. and rival apps TikTok and YouTube were accused of exposing young users to bullying or directing them toward inappropriate content.
More extraordinary powers forced the app to further its restrictions for its younger users.
Following the release of internal documents by a Facebook whistleblower that allegedly showed the app negatively impacted some teens’ mental health and body image, Instagram also provided testimony during 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 children’s friends list and who they messaged the previous week but will not be able to read what was said. Jeremy Voss, Snap’s head of messaging products, said parents wouldn’t be able to view private content or messages sent to or from their teenagers. Still, they can anonymously report any accounts that raise concerns.
Voss defended the discretion of the new Family Center feature by saying, “It strikes the right approach for enhancing safety and well-being while still protecting autonomy and privacy,” Over the upcoming months, Snap said it would roll out new features, such as notifications for parents when their teen reports user abuse.