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Snapchat is for millennials. No one needs to use it. Unless you are a millennial …like me. This addictive app has found its way into my friend circle and my career even brands and publishers use it to connect with their fansso I decided it was time my generation.


Without fanfare — and certainly without the knowledge of parents — this is the latest addition to Snapchatone of the most popular social media sites for teens. There are ten million Snapchat users in the UK and nearly a quarter are under The company claim users had to click a consent box before accepting the new GPS mapping feature.

But when Maddie got a notification on her smartphone that there had been an update to the app, there was nothing to distinguish it from the many others she, and every other user, regularly receives. Yet, while I felt incredibly lucky my daughter had told me, the more I thought about it, the more disturbed I felt. To find out the full implications of the new feature, I asked Maddie to show me how easy it would be track her friends.

Gothy graveyard girl

They live in Glasgow. Yet from more than miles from our base in Dorset, we were able to track down Charly to a house in a remote village in Scotland where she was staying with friends.

Because they were in mobile contact, Kaye had known roughly where Charly was, but not the exact address. Yet because she was in a village we were able to pinpoint her precise location on Snap Map. I found it utterly terrifying. She knows other girls who have more than 1, friends. She knows other girls who have more than 1, friends'. Intriguingly, while my first thought was about safety, Maddie spotted another threat entirely.

The tinder truth

As a girl who has already experienced bullying, Maddie knows how social networks such as Snapchat can be used to control and exclude. In the past, Maddie found out that some girls were sharing her pictures on Snapchat and then passing them around with nasty comments about her appearance. Snap Map surely has the potential to encourage the same sort of Mean Girl behaviour. Of course, Snapchat say you can choose to have Snap Map on or off. Wanting to warn other parents that their children needed to switch off this new feature, Maddie and I filmed a clip highlighting the risks for our t social media channel.

We expected it to get no more than 5, views. Within a day, it had gone viral and has since been seen by 28 million people around the world.

We were also flooded with thousands of supportive messages from parents, expressing the same concerns. Some contacted us to say how concerned they are that children are growing up with no privacy. Others were also worried that their homes could be broken into when virtual strangers realised their families were on holiday. Such location-sharing features are perfect for advertisers who want to attract customers by sending them marketing messages when they are near shops.

Marketers can also use their locations to target young people with notifications about sales to get them through the door. But whatever the agenda, the reality is that for a teenager, such apps play on their basic insecurities.

When a store gets sassy

With power also comes responsibility — and social media platforms need to stop treating our children like commodities. Snapchat say that when the news of the update popped up on my phone screen, I would have had to opt in — and agree for my avatar to show up on the new Snap Map feature.

But actually it was one of my mates who first showed me I was already on it. All I had to do was pinch on the Snapchat screen to zoom in and there was enough detail for others to work out what road I was on.

I was shocked. Being able to see what other people are doing also strikes me as weird.

'i was horrified to realise strangers could spy on my teenage daughter': tv presenter nadia sawalha warns parents about a popular new app that pinpoints your child’s exact location

When I tried it, I could see my pen pal in Florida was at school and another friend was shown asleep in his bedroom. For me, the real concern is how Snap Map can be used to control other people. What if a boy and a girl have a row or split up after they have shared locations on Snap Map, and one tracks the other down or sees their ex-partner with someone else? The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

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