Social Media

How Teens Track Each Other on Snap Map

Delaney Ruston, MD
October 23, 2018
snapchat maps

Last year Snapchat introduced Snap Map, a cartoon-looking map with Bitmojis of users positioned at their real-life locations. At first, I thought this would not catch on because kids would know that sharing their location widely is not safe. I was wrong. The Snap Map function is used by most teens who use the app.

It goes one step further than just showing where the kid is, it also can virtually show what they are actually doing. A Bitmoji is selected by Snapchat to represent what the user is doing. If they are at a concert or listening to music, the Bitmoji might have headphones on. If they are at the gym or exercising, their Bitmoji might have exercise clothes and sneakers. If they are asleep, it shows them with little zzz’s or in a bed. There’s also a function called Map Explore that allows you to scroll through the map to see where your friends are headed. These updates are generated by Snapchat users moving around rather than typing in their locations. You can actually watch as your friend moves from one place to another.

The positive way to look at this is that some kids use the map to find their friends to meet up with them in real life, and encouraging real-life interaction is often a good thing.

But, in no uncertain terms, I want to say that I am concerned that so many of our kids and teens are pinpointing people’s exact location, including home addresses and street names. This raises a lot of red flags.  As we know, the word “friend” can mean anything from a true bestie to a complete stranger.

Keeping our kids safe online is no easy task and Snap Map makes it even harder. It not only compromises the privacy and security of the kids using it, but it can also exacerbate feelings of being left out. Imagine you are at home using Snapchat and you see a group of your friends at someone else’s house on Snap Map. “Why wasn’t I invited,” you think. Whether it was intentional or not, the feeling of being left out is an immediate blow.  

When you first activate Snap Map, you are asked if you want to share your location with all of your friends, some of your friends or remain private in Ghost Mode. If they have already started using Snap Map, they can change their privacy setting to Ghost Mode by going to the photo taking mode and pinching their screen to get to Snap Map. Once there, they click on the settings wheel and select Ghost Mode to turn off location sharing.  They will be able to see where other people are but no one will see them.

I firmly believe that Snap Map has more downsides than upsides. The challenge is that many youths do use it. Therefore, when talking with your kids and teens about this, I suggest entering the conversation from a place of curiosity rather than a place of heavy-handedness.  This will increase the chance that they come to understand that the downsides outweigh any upsides. It might be that you create a rule specifying Ghost Mode even if they disagree with it. They might not be happy at the moment, but chances are someday they will be thankful for the decision.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What positives do think there are with Snap Map?
  • What negatives do you think there are?
  • How is safety compromised if someone can see where you are and what you are doing? If someone can determine your home address?
  • Many kids and teens do indeed use the Ghost Mode (my two teens do) and do you think this makes sense for you? Even if they do not understand it at this point, you can tell them that you want the rule to be that they are in Ghost Mode.

We would love for you to share this TTT any way that works for you, whether that’s on social media or via a newsletter. If you want to send it out in your newsletter we just ask that you credit us and link to our website, and let us know at lisa@screenagersmovie.com.

HOST A SCREENING to help spark change.
FIND EVENT LISTINGS

Do you organize professional development in schools? We now have a 6-hour, 3-part training module. Request more information here Professional Development.

Stay in touch with the Screenagers community on Facebook, Twitter and leave comments below.


Join
441
others who have made the pledge!
Thank you for making the pledge!
Please try again
Book page button

Available now - Parenting in the Screen Age, from Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD

Order Here
Find A screening Button

Find a Screening - Find a screening of our movies in your local community

Learn More
Screenagers Podcast

Screenagers Podcast - Join Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD for the latest Podcast

Learn More
Book page button

Available now - Parenting in the Screen Age, from Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD

Learn More
Host a Screening Button

Community Screenings - Learn more about hosting your own Screenagers community screening event!

Learn More
Host a Screening Button

Community Screenings - Learn more about hosting your own Screenagers community screening event!

Learn More
Find A screening Button

Find a Screening - Find a screening of our movies in your local community

Learn More
Screenagers Podcast

Screenagers Podcast - Join Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD for the latest Podcast

Learn More
Book page button

Available now - Parenting in the Screen Age, from Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD

Learn More
Host a Screening Button

Community Screenings - Learn more about hosting your own Screenagers community screening event!

Learn More
Book page button

Available now - Parenting in the Screen Age, from Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD

Order Here
Find A screening Button

Find a Screening - Find a screening of our movies in your local community

Learn More
Screenagers Podcast

Screenagers Podcast - Join Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD for the latest Podcast

Learn More
Book page button

Available now - Parenting in the Screen Age, from Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD

Learn More
Host a Screening Button

Community Screenings - Learn more about hosting your own Screenagers community screening event!

Learn More
Parenting In The Screen Age Book Cover

Free Book Preview - Download a free preview of "Parenting In The Screen Age" by Delaney Ruston, MD

Learn More
Host a Screening Button

Community Screenings - Learn more about hosting your own Screenagers community screening event!

Learn More
Find A screening Button

Find a Screening - Find a screening of our movies in your local community

Learn More
Screenagers Podcast

Screenagers Podcast - Join Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD for the latest Podcast

Learn More
Book page button

Available now - Parenting in the Screen Age, from Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD

Learn More
Host a Screening Button

Community Screenings - Learn more about hosting your own Screenagers community screening event!

Learn More
Parenting In The Screen Age Book Cover

Free Book Preview - Download a free preview of "Parenting In The Screen Age" by Delaney Ruston, MD

Learn More
Social Media

How Teens Track Each Other on Snap Map

Delaney Ruston, MD
October 23, 2018
snapchat maps

Last year Snapchat introduced Snap Map, a cartoon-looking map with Bitmojis of users positioned at their real-life locations. At first, I thought this would not catch on because kids would know that sharing their location widely is not safe. I was wrong. The Snap Map function is used by most teens who use the app.

It goes one step further than just showing where the kid is, it also can virtually show what they are actually doing. A Bitmoji is selected by Snapchat to represent what the user is doing. If they are at a concert or listening to music, the Bitmoji might have headphones on. If they are at the gym or exercising, their Bitmoji might have exercise clothes and sneakers. If they are asleep, it shows them with little zzz’s or in a bed. There’s also a function called Map Explore that allows you to scroll through the map to see where your friends are headed. These updates are generated by Snapchat users moving around rather than typing in their locations. You can actually watch as your friend moves from one place to another.

The positive way to look at this is that some kids use the map to find their friends to meet up with them in real life, and encouraging real-life interaction is often a good thing.

But, in no uncertain terms, I want to say that I am concerned that so many of our kids and teens are pinpointing people’s exact location, including home addresses and street names. This raises a lot of red flags.  As we know, the word “friend” can mean anything from a true bestie to a complete stranger.

Keeping our kids safe online is no easy task and Snap Map makes it even harder. It not only compromises the privacy and security of the kids using it, but it can also exacerbate feelings of being left out. Imagine you are at home using Snapchat and you see a group of your friends at someone else’s house on Snap Map. “Why wasn’t I invited,” you think. Whether it was intentional or not, the feeling of being left out is an immediate blow.  

When you first activate Snap Map, you are asked if you want to share your location with all of your friends, some of your friends or remain private in Ghost Mode. If they have already started using Snap Map, they can change their privacy setting to Ghost Mode by going to the photo taking mode and pinching their screen to get to Snap Map. Once there, they click on the settings wheel and select Ghost Mode to turn off location sharing.  They will be able to see where other people are but no one will see them.

I firmly believe that Snap Map has more downsides than upsides. The challenge is that many youths do use it. Therefore, when talking with your kids and teens about this, I suggest entering the conversation from a place of curiosity rather than a place of heavy-handedness.  This will increase the chance that they come to understand that the downsides outweigh any upsides. It might be that you create a rule specifying Ghost Mode even if they disagree with it. They might not be happy at the moment, but chances are someday they will be thankful for the decision.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What positives do think there are with Snap Map?
  • What negatives do you think there are?
  • How is safety compromised if someone can see where you are and what you are doing? If someone can determine your home address?
  • Many kids and teens do indeed use the Ghost Mode (my two teens do) and do you think this makes sense for you? Even if they do not understand it at this point, you can tell them that you want the rule to be that they are in Ghost Mode.

We would love for you to share this TTT any way that works for you, whether that’s on social media or via a newsletter. If you want to send it out in your newsletter we just ask that you credit us and link to our website, and let us know at lisa@screenagersmovie.com.

HOST A SCREENING to help spark change.
FIND EVENT LISTINGS

Do you organize professional development in schools? We now have a 6-hour, 3-part training module. Request more information here Professional Development.

Stay in touch with the Screenagers community on Facebook, Twitter and leave comments below.


More Like This

Helping Youth Navigate War Videos On TikTok
March 8, 2022
Social Media

Helping Youth Navigate War Videos On TikTok

In today’s blog, I write about things we can do right now to help our kids and teens navigate the deluge of war content on social media. There are many fake TikTok videos about the war in Ukraine. Investigators found that some of these videos use sound taken from video games.

READ MORE >
What Is Facebook & Instagram Not Telling Us About “Likes”?
November 9, 2021
Social Media

What Is Facebook & Instagram Not Telling Us About “Likes”?

Today I’m writing about what the Wall Street Journal’s reporting on the Facebook Files tells us about what Facebook and Instagram know about “Likes” and what they are not telling us, and solutions on how we can help our youth with “Likes.”

READ MORE >
The Talk To Have About Instagram At Home Right Now
October 12, 2021
Social Media

The Talk To Have About Instagram At Home Right Now

In 2016 FB (and Instagram) asked me to come to their headquarters and show Screenagers to their adolescent division. I spoke about negative emotions that were happening to young people related to social media and my concerns about excessive use and addiction. Around that same time, Facebook was talking about developing a Facebook-type product for youth younger than 13. Fortunately, there was pushback from the public, and this never came to fruition. Our voices matter. We want to support our kids having a voice in this discussion. This week's Tech Talk Tuesday, gives you ideas about talking with your kids about the leaked papers that revealed that Facebook has been internally talking about how youth can have very negative emotions on social media but find it hard to pull away.

READ MORE >

parenting in the screen age

for more like this, DR. DELANEY RUSTON'S NEW BOOK, PARENTING IN THE SCREEN AGE, IS THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE FOR TODAY’S PARENTS. WITH INSIGHTS ON SCREEN TIME FROM RESEARCHERS, INPUT FROM KIDS & TEENS, THIS BOOK IS PACKED WITH SOLUTIONS FOR HOW TO START AND SUSTAIN PRODUCTIVE FAMILY TALKS ABOUT TECHNOLOGY AND IT’S IMPACT ON OUR MENTAL WELLBEING.  

ORDER HERE
Parenting in the Screen Age book cover