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Snapchat Introduces Enhanced Parental Controls for 'My AI' Chatbot

May 17, 2024

Summary of the Blog:

  • Snapchat's New Parental Controls: Introduction of restrictions for teen users on 'My AI' chatbot and enhanced oversight of privacy settings.
  • Access to Family Center: Easier access for parents to manage controls and oversee teen's app usage.
  • Context of Child Safety on Social Media: Upcoming Senate hearing and European Commission's focus on online safety for young users.
  • Meta's Child Safety Measures: Introduction of automatic content restrictions for teen users on Instagram and Facebook.

New Restrictions for Teen Users

Snapchat has recently unveiled new parental controls aimed at enhancing the safety of teen users on its platform. Specifically, these controls allow parents to restrict their teens from interacting with the app’s AI chatbot, 'My AI'. This decision comes after Snapchat launched 'My AI' nearly a year ago, facing criticism for not implementing sufficient age-gating features. The controversy arose when the chatbot engaged in conversations with minors on sensitive topics, such as disguising the smell of marijuana and setting the mood for sexual encounters.

Improved Oversight and Privacy Settings

Beyond the restrictions on 'My AI', Snapchat is now offering parents a broader view of their teens' privacy and safety settings. For instance, parents can check if their teen's Story is shared with all friends or a select group, who can contact their teen, and if the teen's location is being shared on Snap Map. These measures aim to provide parents with more oversight while maintaining a balance with the teens' privacy.

Access to Family Center

Snapchat is making its Family Center more accessible to parents. They can now easily navigate to this feature from their profile or settings. Family Center is a dedicated space within the app for parental controls, designed to reflect real-world dynamics between parents and teens. Snapchat has developed this feature in collaboration with families and online safety experts, committing to regular updates based on feedback.

Wider Context: Child Safety on Social Platforms

The expansion of Snapchat's parental controls coincides with broader concerns about child safety on social networks. Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel is set to testify before the Senate on child safety, along with executives from other major social platforms like X (formerly Twitter), TikTok, Meta, and Discord. This hearing aims to address the platforms' efforts in protecting young users online. Additionally, the European Commission has recently requested information from Snapchat and Meta about their measures to safeguard young users.

Meta's Parallel Initiative

In a similar move, Meta has introduced new limitations to protect child safety this week. The tech giant announced automatic restrictions for teen accounts on Instagram and Facebook, limiting exposure to harmful content such as posts about self-harm, graphic violence, and eating disorders. This step represents part of a broader effort by social media companies to address growing concerns over child safety and privacy on their platforms.

To further understand the implications of these changes and how they might affect parents and teens, let's delve deeper into the specifics of Snapchat's new features and the broader landscape of online child safety.

For more detailed information on Snapchat's parental controls and Family Center, visit Snapchat's official guidance on parental controls. Additionally, to learn about the context of the Senate hearing on child safety in social media, including the involvement of Snapchat and other major platforms, refer to this Washington Post article.

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