The NSPCC is warning Northamptonshire children not to broadcast their location on Snapchat amid concern it could leave users vulnerable to grooming, stalking and bullying.
Snap chat has launched a new feature called Snap Map, which has raised a few eyebrows with Northamptonshire Police, who have since written to every school in the area encouraging them to discuss online safety with their pupils.
The feature enables users to share their location with everyone on their Snapchat contacts list to such a precise degree that is possible to tell what part of a building a user is in.
The feature also displays if the user is travelling in a car or listening to music.
NSPCC child safety online expert Rose Bray said: “Even limiting Snap Maps to the ‘friends only’ setting is risky if those contacts include people you don’t know.
“This highlights why it’s vital Government forces social networks to offer Safe Accounts to under 18s, with the highest privacy settings and location settings locked off.
“Young people can hide their location using ghost mode, which can be switched on from the Snap Maps screen.
“It’s important parents have regular conversations with young people about staying safe online, and making sure that they know how to protect their privacy.
“The NSPCC’s Share Aware materials online can help parents to start these conversations”
The NSPCC is now urging Northampton youngsters to hide their location using the ‘ghost mode’ setting and has issued advice to parents.
It is also calling on Government to force social networks to offer safe accounts to under 18s – with location settings switched off as default.
The charity said Snap Maps could leave users vulnerable to grooming, stalking, bullying, controlling behaviours or feeling excluded and encourages users to think about who is on their Snapchat contact list, and who they are sharing their location with.
Research from Netaware, the NSPCC’s online safety website, found that 36 per cent of young people had added someone online that they don’t know in the last six months.