As part of Snap’s child safety efforts, Snapchat is launching a new supervision tool Tuesday that the company says mimics how parents and teens interact in the real world.
Snapchat’s new “Family Center” hub lets parents and guardians keep track of who their teens message in the app without revealing what they’re saying to each other. Both the guardian and the child must accept the invitation to the Family Center before the monitoring tools can take effect. Once the invitations are accepted, a guardian can see their child’s complete friends list, a list of accounts they’ve interacted with in the past seven days, and report on accounts to Snap’s Trust and Safety Team.
“Our goal was to create a set of tools designed to reflect the dynamics of real-world relationships and foster collaboration and trust between parents and teens,” Snap said in his blog post Tuesday. The feature is meant to copy real relationships, such as when a parent lets a child’s friends come over, but doesn’t control everything they say.
Snap plans to roll out new Family Center features in the coming weeks, including tools that allow parents to view the new friends their kids have added, along with additional content controls.
Snap’s new parental controls come as lawmakers continue their work to address children’s online safety. After Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked internal documents revealing how Meta’s platforms could harm young users, some of the biggest tech platforms were called in to testify before Congress. Under YouTube and TikTok, a Snap representative sat before a Senate committee last October.
At last year’s hearing, Jennifer Stout, Snap’s vice president of global public policy, said, “Snapchat was built as an antidote to social media” — distinguishing how Snap distanced itself from Facebook and other social media platforms.
Haugen’s revelations and subsequent hearings led to the introduction of a number of bills to address child safety online. Late last month, a Senate panel approved two bills that would restrict how tech platforms can collect and use data from young users. according to The Washington Post.
One bill, the Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act, would prohibit tech companies from collecting the data of users between the ages of 13 and 16 without parental consent. A second bill, the Kids Online Safety Act, would create an “erase” button that would allow young users to easily delete their data from platforms. The measures were approved amid a growing movement of lawyers calling for lawmakers to raise age limits in federal law to protect the privacy of children between the ages of 13 and 18, rather than just children under the age of 13.
After the October Congressional hearing in October, the company announced it was working on the Family Center tool it announced Tuesday. In a statement to The edge Last year, a Snap spokesperson said: “Our overall goal is to help young people make the right choices and make the right choices to improve their online safety and to help parents partner with their children as they navigate the digital world.”
In January, Snap launched a feature that limits the number of friend suggestions teens see in its app via the Quick Add menu. According to the company, children between the ages of 13 and 17 only get suggestions for accounts that “have a certain number of friends in common with that person.”