To all the parents who want to know more about who your kids are talking to on their smartphones, I have good news and bad news. The good news: A prominent social media app recently made changes that allow parents and guardians to access more data about children who are between the ages of 13 and 17. The bad news: You have to download Snapchat.
Once it’s set up and your account is connected to your child’s, Snapchat’s new Family Center lets you see your child’s friends list, who they’re messaging, and report potential abuse. The family center does not let you see the content of their messages. While the new feature lets you see the approximate time your child messaged someone in the past week, it doesn’t provide an exact timestamp.
It’s not as flashy as the company’s recently canceled flying selfie camera, but Family Hub is a worthwhile safety feature that might pique the interest of Snapchat-unfamiliar parents. For more on how to strike the balance as a parent between monitoring your kids for safety reasons and accidentally cultivating a state of home surveillance, check out this article by contributor Cyd Harrell.
How to use Snapchat Family Center
Yes, you’ll need to download Snapchat to your smartphone to use Family Hub. Once downloaded, open the Snapchat app and tap Sign up if you don’t have an account yet. The enrollment process begins with a request for access to your smartphone’s contact list (which you can allow or deny). Then enter your full name and choose Sign up and accept. Enter your date of birth and tap Keep on.
Snapchat will automatically generate a username for you on the next page. choose Change my username if you want to adjust it, otherwise you can tap Keep on again. Enter a custom password and your phone number or email address to complete the Snapchat signup process. touch Omit button in the upper right corner if you want to stop connecting with your friends and create a Bitmoji avatar.
So, you now have a Snapchat account. Add your child as a mutual friend by exchanging usernames or Snap codes. You must be connected as mutuals before you can add your child to the family center. When you’re ready to set up the family center, look for yours profile icon in the upper-left corner of the app’s home screen and tap it. Then choose the gear button at the top right and scroll down until you see a labeled section Privacy controls.
This is where you’ll find the new Family Center dashboard. Since you’re already friends with your teen on Snapchat, you can tap on their name and give them the opportunity to sign up as a family member by selecting Send invitation. The family member’s invitation is then sent to Snapchat as a direct message with a link to sign up.
Remember, once Family Center is turned on, you’ll have live access to a list of your teen’s friends on Snapchat and the last time they messaged a user during the week. You will not have access to the child’s frequency of communication with users or saved photos. The feature is designed as an additional layer of privacy and security for minors on Snapchat, and users 18 and older are not eligible for tracking.