Snapchat has launched a parental control portal that allows parents to keep an eye on who their young teenagers have been chatting with. The new in-app feature called Family Center shows parents their kids’ friends list, as well as who they’ve messaged in the last seven days. Take note that parents can only see who their teens have been talking to, but they won’t be able to read their chat history. Snap says the center was designed to “reflect the way… parents engage with their teens in the real world” in that they know (for the most part) who their kids have been hanging out with but don’t listen in on their conversations.
In addition, parents can confidentially report accounts they think might be violating Snap’s rules straight from the Family Center. Back in January, Snapchat changed its friend recommendation feature following calls for increased safety on the app by making it harder for adults to connect with teen users: In particular, it stopped showing accounts owned by 13-to-17-year-old users in Quick Add. Teens also can’t have public profiles and have to be mutual friends to be able to communicate with each other. Plus, their accounts will only show up in search results under certain circumstances, such as if the one searching has a mutual friend with them.
Snap promised to launch new parental controls and other features designed to protect underage users on its service last year. The company revealed its plans in a hearing wherein lawmakers put the pressure on social networks and apps that cater to teens, such as Snapchat and TikTok, to do more to protect children on their platforms.
Family Center is completely voluntary, and teens can always leave the portal if they want — they’ll even be given the choice to accept or ignore a parent’s invitation to join. And since the feature was made for underage teens, users who turn 18 will automatically be removed from the tool.
The company plans to roll out more features for the Family Center on top of what it already has. It will allow parents to easily see the newest friends their teens have added in the coming weeks. And over the next months, Snap will add content controls for parents, as well as the ability for teens to notify their parents whenever they report an account or a piece of content.