Snap, the parent company of the popular messaging app, Snapchat announced on Tuesday that it would be releasing a set of parental control tools. These will allow parents to monitor their teens’ activities on the platform.
The company’s new tool, called Family Centre, comes at a time when social media sites have been criticised for not doing enough to protect kids. In October, Snap, along with other tech companies such as YouTube, testified before a US congressional committee after being accused of exposing young users to harmful content.
In December, Instagram also testified before a senate hearing about children’s online safety. The company was criticised after a Facebook whistleblower revealed that it was responsible for affecting the mental health of teens like body image issues.
As for SnapChat’s new feature, Family Centre, it allows parents to monitor their kids’ activities on Snapchat. It will also allow them to see their kids’ friends list and the people they have messaged in the past seven days and then report an issue on the app.
However, Snap’s head of messaging said that parents would not be able to see private messages or content sent to and from their kids. “It strikes the right approach for enhancing safety and well-being, while still protecting autonomy and privacy,” he said.
In the coming months, Snap said it would also launch additional features that will allow parents to notify their kids about the abusive activity.
Prior to Family Centre, Snap had already implemented various teen protection policies. For instance, profiles for users under 18 would be private, and they would only show up as suggested friends when they have friends of the same age.
Similar to Instagram’s Family Centre, Snap’s new tools will allow parents to view what accounts their teens follow and how much time they spend on the app.