While other platforms are already geared with different parental monitoring features, Snapchat is still in its preparation stage for its own so-called “Family Center.” It’s been a long time coming for the app, but it is good to know that it keeps pursuing this feature after Snap CEO Evan Spiegel teased the plan in October 2021.
Snapchat has 293 million daily active users, with 4 billion snaps shared per day. And according to the data shared by Snap to advertisers during its NewFronts presentation, the company said that 75% of the 13-34-year-old population in over 20 countries already has access to the app. With such numbers, it is undeniable that the app is mostly used by young users, specifically teens. This further calls for the urgent need for a dedicated parental monitoring feature in the app, which is still not even available for testing.
Nonetheless, screenshots shared to Techcrunch by the mobile product intelligence startup Watchful confirm the concept and features of the Family Center that were first divulged during a 2021 interview at the WSJ Tech Live conference.
“Our overall goal is to help educate and empower young people to make the right choices to enhance their online safety and to help parents be partners with their kids in navigating the digital world,” a spokesperson said at that time. “When we build new products or features, we try to do it in a way that reflects natural human behaviors and relationships — and the parental tools we are developing are meant to give parents better insights to help protect their kids, in ways that don’t compromise their privacy or data security, are legally compliant and offered at no charge to families within Snapchat.”
The screenshots offer some educational prompts that will summarize the functions of the Family Center for parents and their teens. According to the prompt shown, the monitoring person can assist the teen in reporting cases of abuse experienced on the platform. It will also allow the monitoring adult to see the user’s friend list while also advising them to encourage the teens to only add individuals they know. Similarly, the Family Center will allow parents to see the users who have messaged their children in the last seven days. However, it is worth noting that this function is only limited to the names of the users communicating with the teens, not the content of their exchanges. This is a good thing, though, as it means respecting the teen’s privacy. In relation to that, Family Center needs the approval of the teen user before an adult gets access to the feature. Here, the parent or guardian would need to send a request to the teen, who has the choice to either accept or decline it. Having the former will mean mutual understanding or consent about sharing the information with the adult.
TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram already have their own parental control features. Snap, on the other hand, is still nowhere near announcing the availability of the Family Center since it still hasn’t entered the testing stage. It is also a bit dismaying that it is just starting to materialize now, especially since the app has always been involved in a variety of issues concerning the safety of its young users. Nonetheless, as the old adage goes, it’s better late than never.