(File photo)

Advocates warn parents about Snapchat map dangers

Worries abound that children could be tracked

Several child protection groups are warning that Snapchat’s new location-sharing feature could allow predators to more easily track young people.

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection and the digital literacy group MediaSmarts are among the organizations raising concerns about “Snap Maps” – an opt-in feature that shares a user’s location on a map.

Experts say child predators who befriend young users could use the feature to figure out where they live, go to school, the route they walk every day, and eventually build up a picture of their routine.

The feature was included in a recent update to the social media app, which is especially popular with teens. It lets users send photos, videos, and messages that disappear after a set period of time.

RELATED: Tasteless Snapchat GIF removed

Users can select who can see where they are – whether that be all friends, a select group, or no one, also known as “Ghost Mode.”

Earlier this week, the Winnipeg-based Canadian Centre for Child Protection issued an alert through its Cybertip.ca program about Snap Maps, saying users may not realize it updates their location each time they open the app, even when they’re not sharing stories.

The group also urges parents to talk to their kids about keeping their location private and ensuring their “friends” on Snapchat – and all social media– are people they have met in person.

Thierry Plante of the Ottawa-based MediaSmarts points to the “troubling consequences” of allowing others to know your location.

“It becomes a very useful tracking tool for somebody who has other intentions,” says Plante.

“Parents do need to be very present in the digital lives of their children and have the conversation about how to use that feature, whether or not that feature is something they should be using or not, and then together … if you have decided to use it, how to set the feature in a way to minimize that risk.”

Childnet International also released a statement about the feature last week.

“Given how specific this new feature is on Snapchat – giving your location to a precise pinpoint on a map – we would encourage users not to share their location, especially with people they don’t know in person,” the group said in a statement.

A Snapchat spokesperson said in a statement that “the safety of our community is very important to us” and stressed that using Snap Map “is completely optional.”

“Snapchatters can choose exactly who they want to share their location with, if at all, and can change that setting at any time. It’s also not possible to share your location with someone who isn’t already your friend on Snapchat, and the majority of interactions on Snapchat take place between close friends,” reads the statement.

Snapchat has an online parents guide offering tips on keeping teens safe while using the app, as well as an online “safety center” where anyone can report a safety concern.

Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

FISHING ADVENTURES: Winter fishing starts to pick up

Crabbing in Sooke Harbour continues to be good with large male Dungeness around

Sooke girls volleyball squad places seventh at Island tourney

Dawn Gibson Sooke News Mirror The EMCS senior girls volleyball team made… Continue reading

Premier asks for re-do on Highway 14 study

A study on Highway 14 improvement has been delayed for a second… Continue reading

Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra celebrates 20th anniversary

Norman Nelson founded the orchestra in 1997

Sooke talk focuses on risk of nuclear war

Discussion and talk held on Nov. 30

Victoria’s Gingerbread Showcase on full display

Donate to place a vote for the people’s choice winner and support Habitat For Humanity

Running back propels Spectrum Thunder into first Subway Bowl final

Brandon Robbins scores hat trick of touchdowns

ICBC overbilling for crash repairs not the problem, dealers say

Collision repair shops reject union claim of inflated costs

B.C. sport groups to address child sex abuse in sports

viaSport is organizing a full day of education in association with Canadian Centre for Child Protection and the Coaching Association of Canada.

Report sets exercise guidelines for young kids, including ‘tummy time’ for babies

Kids aged one to four should get at least three hours of physical activity throughout the day

Stampeders return to Grey Cup with 32-28 win over Edmonton Eskimos

The Stampeders will face the Toronto Argonauts next Sunday in Ottawa for the title

Nebraska approves TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline

Nebraska’s Public Service Commission approved TransCanada’s Keystone XL route in a close vote

B.C. VIEWS: China a better partner than U.S.

B.C. is slowly winning the softwood lumber war

Forecast calls for a snowy Canadian winter

Canadians told to brace for a ‘classic’ Canadian winter with lots of snow

Most Read