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Recent Software Updates have Questioned the Safety of Social Media

A recent Snapchat update has left parents and carers of young children concerned

A warning has been put out that parents and carers of young or vulnerable people are urged to talk to them about staying safe online due to the recent software updates. This warning comes after an updated feature was added to Snap Maps within the popular app called ‘Snapchat’.

It now allows the exact location of a Snapchat user to be seen in live time and tracked over some time via a virtual map. If the location services on the device being used are turned on, users can view each other’s precise location in live time on a map, including road names and house numbers, in some instances, and then continue to track the use for several hours.

Northumbria Police are aware that this can be used to allow friends and family to know where a person is for safety, but they are also mindful that many users, particularly young or vulnerable people, may have ‘friends’ on Snapchat that they have never met before and only know online.

As technology and digital platforms are advancing, many officers and parents are working to ensure that police, parents, and carers are staying ahead of anyone looking to use these channels to exploit vulnerable or young people within the communities.

Cyber Crime Inspector Chris Riley of Northumbria Police has warned parents and carers of the dangers and urges them to have a healthy conversation with children about the risks of being online. He said: “Sadly, child sexual exploitation, alongside other forms of exploitation, hasn't gone away, and developments in technology have increased opportunities for offenders to access children and vulnerable adults…

“We need to recognise that young people especially spend a significant amount of their time online and need the right tools to stay safe while doing this. We also advise that location and privacy settings are double-checked and to disable location settings when required”.

He also added, "Stranger danger applies when you’re online, and sadly, the reality is that a child doesn’t have to meet up with an offender to come to real harm”. A recent figure showed that children as young as four might have access to inappropriate content on social media platforms such as TikTok and Snapchat. It is recommended that parents and carers think about installing age restrictions on content, location services, and apps on phones and tablets.

For help and support parents can visit: https://beta.northumbria.police.uk/advice-and-info/parents-and-kids/online-safety-advice-for-parents// or for more information on how to change settings on Snapchat visit: Snapchat Parental Controls - Internet Matters



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