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Snap introduces tools to monitor young people’s contacts

Snap, the owner of the popular messaging app Snapchat, rolled out its first parental control tools on Tuesday which will enable parents to see who their teenagers are talking to, but not the substance of their conversations.

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The new feature called the Family Centre is being launched at a time when social media companies have been criticized for not protecting children. In October, Snap and other apps such as TikTok and YouTube testified before American legislators accusing companies of exposing young users to bullying or directing them to harmful content.

Instagram also testified at a Senate hearing in December on the online safety of kids, after a Facebook whistleblower disclosed internal documents that she said showed that the app was harmful to the mental health and body image of some teenagers.

Parents can invite their teenagers to join the Family Center on Snapchat, and once the teenagers’ consent, parents will be able to consult the list of their children’s friends and the messages they have sent on the app over the last seven days. They may also confidentially declare all relevant accounts.

However, parents will not be able to see any private content or messages sent to their teenagers, said Jeremy Voss, head of Snap’s messaging products, in an interview.

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‘It strikes the right way to improve security and well-being while protecting autonomy and privacy,’ he said.

Snap stated that it plans to introduce additional features in the coming months, including notifications to parents when their teen reports user abuse.

Prior to the Family Centre, Snap had already established policies to protect teens. By default, profiles for Snapchat users under 18 are private, and they just appear as a friend suggested in the search results when they have friends in common with another user. Users must be thirteen years of age or older to register.

Prior to the Family Centre, Snap had already established policies to protect teens. By default, profiles for Snapchat users under 18 are private, and they just appear as a friend suggested in the search results when they have friends in common with another user. Users must be thirteen years of age or older to register.

Snap’s new tools come on the heels of a similar Instagram initiative, which launched its Family Centre in March, allowing parents to see their teen’s accounts and how much time they spend on the app.

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