Sleaford school’s warning to parents about new Snapchat Map ‘app’

Snapchat. EMN-170407-151039001
Snapchat. EMN-170407-151039001

A Sleaford secondary school is issuing a warning to parents and students about a new ‘app’ introduced by a social media site popular with teenagers.

Kesteven and Sleaford High School has issued letters to parents highlighting the controversial new feature that picture sharing site Snapchat have released with their latest update.

The location based feature called ‘Snap Map’ has hit the national headlines as it allows users to see exactly where their Snapchat ‘friends’ are located and even what they are doing, for example if they are moving, a car logo may be featured with their name. The additional ‘ghost’ feature allows users to secretly see someone’s location on the map, without appearing there themselves.

This has led child internet security campaigners to warn about the consequences of online grooming or stalking if this information fell into the wrong hands.

The app can be extended to explore Snaps around the world from the ‘See the World’ feature. A user’s location settings must be turned on in Snapchat for the feature to be active.

Assistance headteacher with pastoral responsibility, Cate Tipper told parents in her letter: “We are concerned that this new update could place our students in a vulnerable position. This is because students often have ‘online friends’ who they don’t see or interact with in person. This means their true identity cannot be verified or they are unknown to responsible adults and yet they can be aware of the physical whereabouts of your daughter.

“If your daughter is using this feature we would strongly recommend, as a minimum that they have the app set to ‘select friends’ mode. They can then choose only people they have met and know, to be able to see their location.” (This advice is echoed by the company which runs Snapchat).

Once the feature is enabled it cannot be removed, only deactivated, by selecting the ghost mode so that their location cannot be viewed.

The school’s advice is:

* To access the map, pinch the top and bottom of the screen with one hand and drag your fingers together. This should bring up the Snap Map.

* Click Next

* Choose who can see your location on the map – ‘ghost mode’

* Click finish

Mrs Tipper also wished to remind parents about another online app causing concern.

She said: “We have been made aware, by colleagues at a Lincoln secondary school, of serious incidents of grooming of children through an app called ‘Musically’ (a social media site). These incidents have affected students in Lincoln who have befriended the perpetrators through the app. Our advice to students, as it always has been, is that they should not add someone to their social media accounts if they do not know them, nor should they give away personal details online.

“We would suggest that if students are using the app that they delete it.”