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
424
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 community screening close to you or watch our movies on demand

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 community screening close to you or watch our movies on demand

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 community screening close to you or watch our movies on demand

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 community screening close to you or watch our movies on demand

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
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

Podcasts And Books I Recommend Right Now
March 29, 2021
Social Media

Podcasts And Books I Recommend Right Now

Feelings of compassion have been intensely visceral for me this year. It has made me reflect on books and podcasts that have influenced me in the far past and the near-present. Today I share a few that inspire compassion and insight that you can listen to or with your kids, or they can read or listen alone.

READ MORE >
Failure To Close The Loop, Or Ghosted?
March 22, 2021
Social Media

Failure To Close The Loop, Or Ghosted?

Online interactions can be the only clues to understand an interpersonal dynamic. Is someone not responding because they are busy? Or are they “Ghosting” you? Today I’m writing about “closing the loop” and other digital etiquettes.

READ MORE >
Pressure For Pics In The Pandemic
February 9, 2021
Social Media

Pressure For Pics In The Pandemic

The ways girls (and boys) are getting asked for sexually provocative photos and videos and how to help with a conversation — especially during Covid.

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