It’s been in development for the last few months, and now, Snapchat has officially launched its new Family Center, which will enable parents to essentially monitor who their teens are engaging with in the app, while also keeping the specifics of their conversations private.
As outlined in this introductory video, the aim of the Family Center is to help parents understand how their kids are engaging in the app, without overstepping privacy grounds.
As explained by Snap:
“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. In the coming weeks, we will add a new feature that will allow parents to easily view new friends their teens have added.”
Parents will also be able to report any accounts that may be of concern directly to Snap’s Trust and Safety teams, without alerting their child, which could help to avoid any unwanted attention that their kids might be getting in the app.
In order to access the platform, parents will need to sign up for their own Snapchat account, then access the Family Center in the app.
As outlined here, teens will need to accept an invitation from their parents to join their Family Center dashboard, so there’s full transparency in the process.
(As an aside, it could also be a way for Snapchat to boost its active user counts, as every parent who wants to utilize the Family Center will need to sign up for an account to access it.)
It’s a valuable, and important update – though it does comes with some level of risk for Snap, in respect to potentially reducing the app’s appeal.
The ephemeral nature of Snapchat has, over time, made it a key platform for more risqué, controversial sharing activity, in variance to, say, Facebook, where your whole family is watching on. But now, with parents wading into the conversation, that could make it a less appealing prospect for this type of engagement, which may water down the platform’s value for younger audiences.
Yet, at the same time, there have been various reports of how Snapchat is commonly used for sending lewd messages, and arranging hook-ups, which comes with its own level of risk, while drug dealers reportedly also now use Snap to organize meet-ups and sales.
Logically, parents will be keen to glean more insight into such – but again, I can’t imagine Snap users will be so welcoming of an intrusive tool in this respect.
Still, there’s valuable purpose here, and this seems like a compromise that Snap needs to, and should make.
But it could see at least some of this activity drifting off to other platforms instead.
In addition to this, Snap’s also planning to add additional features to its Family Center:
“… 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 us. While we closely moderate and curate both our content and entertainment platforms, and don’t allow unvetted content to reach a large audience on Snapchat, we know each family has different views on what content is appropriate for their teens and want to give them the option to make those personal decisions.”
Overall, it seems like a valuable addition to Snap’s protection tools, which already include measures to stop unwanted messages between adults and youngsters and limit teens from showing up in search results.
And on balance, it does seem that the potential value outweighs the potential risk in losing user engagement.