Snapchat launches new in-app tool Family Centre for parents and caregivers


• Snapchat’s Family Centre launches in English-speaking markets on August 9

Snapchat has launched Family Centre, the platform’s new in-app tool for parents and caregivers to ensure the safety and well-being of teens online.

Family Centre will give parents and caregivers more insight into whom their teens are friends with and chat to on the platform without revealing the substance of those conversations.

Henry Turnbull, head of public policy, APAC at Snap Inc., told Mediaweek that the driving inspiration behind the new tool was their conversations with parents wanting additional ways to ensure the safety of young people online.

“We’ve been committed to safety on Snapchat for a long time,” he said. “The aim is to create a safe and positive environment for people using Snapchat.

“This is the latest feature and investment in a long series of safety features informed by our conversations with parents and young people,” he added.


Setting up Family Centre

Snapchat’s in-app tool reflects how parents and caregivers engage with their teens in the real world, where parents know who their teen friends are but don’t eavesdrop on their private conversations.

Parents and caregivers over 25 will first need to be friends with their teens – between 13 to 18 – on the platform, and both parties will need to opt in to access the Family Centre.

Once both parties have agreed, parents and caregivers can see which Snapchat friends their teen has sent and received messages, photos or videos from over the last seven days without revealing the content of those conversations.

They will have access to their teens’ friend lists, be able to confidentially report accounts they are concerned about to Snap’s Trust and Safety team, and access to information and resources about Family Centre tools.

Accepting a Family Center invitation

Family Centre also operates on a two-way basis in that teens can also see what their parents see, with a mirrored view of features.

Turnbull explained that once the teen has turned 18, the Family Centre option should phase out. He also noted that parents and caregivers of more than one teen would have access to each teen’s accounts.

“The important thing is that both the parent or caregiver and the teen need to opt-in. (The Family Centre feature is) based on opt-in, and people can always opt-out at any point,” Turnbull added.

Snapchat worked with families to develop the Family Centre to understand the needs of both parents and teens and the different approaches to parenting and privacy.

Parent or care giver’s view into a teen’s account through Family Centre

The platform also consulted with experts in online safety and well-being to incorporate their feedback and insights, create tools designed to reflect the dynamics of real-world relationships and foster collaboration and trust between parents and teens.

Professor Amanda Third, professional research fellow at Western Sydney University and co-director of Young and Resilient Research Centre, helped consult on Snapchat’s new feature and called new tools for parents a “positive step” to online safety for teens.

“Tools that allow parents visibility of their teen’s online interactions, while still maintaining teen privacy, can be seen as a positive step forward in helping young people stay safe online,” she said.

“Talking to teens about cyber safety can be challenging for parents and carers, and features that can promote conversations within families on this important topic are welcome. It’s encouraging to see platforms like Snapchat further prioritising teen safety and privacy,” she added.

In the coming months, Snapchat plans on rolling out additional features to Family centre, including new content controls for parents and the ability for teens to notify their parents when they report an account or a piece of content to the platform. 

Snapchat said its goal is to help empower parents and teens in a way that still protects a teenager’s autonomy and privacy.

Snapchat’s Family Centre launch will first roll out in English speaking markets – US, Australia, New Zealand, UK, a Canada –  on August 9, before other markets around the world.

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