Police in Newcastle urge parents to check children’s phones as Snapchat adds new feature

A new Snapchat feature will broadcast users’ location 24/7, including house numbers in some instances

Parents and carers of young people in Newcastle and the North East are being urged to talk to children about online safety after a new Snapchat update.

The popular social media platform has changed its Snap Maps feature so that the exact location of users can be tracked live on the virtual map.

If location services on the device are turned on, users can see road names and, in some instances, even house numbers, as well as tracking location over several hours.

This feature will help family and friends know where youngsters are and potentially increase safety, but Northumbria Police are warning that users may have ‘friends’ on Snapchat that they have never met before and only know online.

Cyber Crime Inspector Chris Riley, of Northumbria Police, has encouraged parents and carers to start a healthy conversation with children.

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He said: “Sadly, child sexual exploitation, alongside other forms of exploitation, hasn’t gone away and developments in technology have actually increased opportunities for offenders to access children and vulnerable adults.

Snapchat has 332 million daily users (Image: Adobe Stock)

“We need to recognise that young people especially spend a significant amount of their time online and need the right tools to stay safe while doing this.

“Part of our role is to work with young people and guardians to help educate them about the potential dangers lurking online. The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to stop these predators from getting the access they want. Think about installing age restrictions on content, location services and apps on phones and tablets.

“We also advise that location and privacy settings are double-checked and to disable location settings when required.”

The Inspector added that parents should check who their children are friends with online, as well as who they follow and who follows them.

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For help and support as a parent, more support from Northumbria Police can be found here.

Information on Snapchat privacy settings is here