Starting today, parents and teens can opt into Snapchat’s “Family Center,” a new feature designed to help parents monitor their kids’ activity on the app in a way that mimics real life interactions. The new Snapchat feature allows parents to see who their kids and teens are connecting with on Snapchat, but it does not give parents or guardians access to conversations.
In order to use the new feature, both the teen and the parent have to opt into Snapchat’s Family Center. This means that parents and guardians need to download the app and make an account. (Don’t worry, here are step-by-step instructions to set up a Snapchat account, for the less technically inclined parents.)
Once the invites are accepted, a guardian can see their child’s entire friend list, a list of accounts their child has interacted with over the past week, and the ability to report concerning accounts to Snapchat’s Trust and Safety Team.
"Family Center is designed to reflect the way that parents engage with their teens in the real world, where parents usually know who their teens are friends with and when they are hanging out — but don’t eavesdrop on their private conversations," explained a blog post on the company’s website. So like a real-life playdate, a parent might not know every thing that their child and friends are talking about while playing video games, but they know who those friends are.
Unlike Instagram’s Family Center, a similar safety hub launched earlier this year by Meta, Snapchat’s Family Center doesn’t allow guardians to set time limits or see how long their child has been active on the app. Only users between the ages of 13 and 18 are able to join a parent or guardian’s family center, and teens can see a “mirrored view” of what their parents are seeing, so any monitoring is transparent.
The social media company worked with families along with experts in online safety, like Protect Young Eyes, to create Snapchat Family Center.
"There is the conversation that needs to take place between parents and young people. I like that feature, because I think it forces parents to talk to their kids," Chris McKenna, founder of Protect Young Eyes, told TODAY Parents of the new feature. "If a child says no, that’s worthy of a conversation."
In January, Snapchat introduced a feature that limits the amount of friend suggestions teens see on the app on the Quick Add menu. According to Snapchat, teens between the ages of 13 and 17 only receive suggested accounts that “have a certain number of friends in common with that person.”
Snapchat was first launched in 2011, and thanks to its innovative filters (known as lenses on the app, for parents less familiar) is still a mainstay for many, especially teens. Snapchat had 332 million daily active users during the first quarter of 2022. People ages 15 to 25 make up 48% of those daily active users in the U.S.
Snapchat continues to be an integral part of many teens’ lives, which makes it even more important for parents and guardians to make sure they talk to their kids about online and social media safety. At the very least, Snapchat’s Family Center will give parents an avenue to open (or re-open) the discussion with their teens.