Snapchat is launching a new supervision tool on Tuesday as part of its child safety efforts. The tool, according to the company, mimics how parents and teenagers interact in real life.
snapchat parental controls new “Family Center” hub allows parents and guardians to monitor who their teens message on the app without knowing what they’re saying. Before the oversight tools can be used, both the guardian and the child must accept the Family Center’s invitation. Once the invites are accepted, a guardian can view their child’s entire friend list as well as a list of accounts they’ve interacted with in the last seven days and report suspicious accounts to Snap’s Trust and Safety Team.
“Our goal was to create a set of tools that reflect the dynamics of real-world relationships and foster collaboration and trust between parents and teens,” Snap wrote in a blog post on Tuesday. The feature is intended to resemble real-life relationships, such as when a parent allows a child’s friends to visit but does not monitor everything they say.
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Snap intends to release new Family Center features over the next few weeks, including tools that allow parents to view the new friends their children have added, as well as additional content controls.
Introducing Family Center, our new in-app tools for parents and their teens on Snapchat. Designed to reflect the dynamics of real-world relationships, we want to empower parents to make online safety a priority — while protecting teens’ privacy. https://t.co/VhhgD5NzD2 pic.twitter.com/QC2NOLuU3r
— Snapchat (@Snapchat) August 9, 2022
Snap’s new parental controls come as lawmakers work to improve children’s online safety. Following the leak of internal documents by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen revealing how Meta’s platforms can harm young users, some of the largest tech platforms were called to testify before Congress. A Snap representative testified before a Senate committee last October, alongside representatives from YouTube and TikTok.
Jennifer Stout, Snap’s vice president of global public policy, stated at last year’s hearing, “Snapchat was built as an antidote to social media,” highlighting how Snap is distinguishing itself from Facebook and other social media platforms.
Following Haugen’s disclosures and subsequent hearings, a number of bills addressing children’s online safety were introduced. A Senate panel approved two bills late last month that would limit how tech platforms can collect and use data from young users.
The Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act, for example, would prohibit tech companies from collecting data from users aged 13 to 16 without parental consent. The Kids Online Safety Act, a second bill, would create a “eraser” button that would allow young users to easily delete their data from platforms. The measures were approved amid a growing movement of advocates calling on lawmakers to raise the age limits in federal law to cover the privacy of children aged 13 to 18, rather than just children under 13.
Following Snap’s congressional hearing in October, the company announced that it was working on the Family Center tool that was unveiled on Tuesday. “Our overall goal is to help educate and empower young people to make the right choices to enhance their online safety and to help parents be partners with their kids in navigating the digital world,” a Snap spokesperson said last year in a statement to The Verge.
Snap launched a feature in January that limits the number of friend suggestions teenagers see on its app via its Quick Add menu. According to the company, children aged 13 to 17 are only recommended for accounts that “have a certain number of friends in common with that person.”