Snapchat is an app that lets you send a photo, short video or message to your contacts. The ‘snap’ appears on screen for up to 10 seconds before disappearing, although it can be screenshotted. There’s also a feature called Snapchat Story that lets you share snaps in a sequence for up to 24 hours. 

Snapchat is only to be used by children age 13+ however we are aware that some of our pupils and children younger than 13 in other schools have access to it and are using this app on a regular basis. Without correct monitoring and management of these kinds of apps and online content you could be putting your children at risk of harm. 

Recently Snapchat added a feature to their app called "Snap Maps." This allows fellow Snapchat users to see your most current location on a map of the world at any given time. Users can zoom into the map to the point of being able to see exactly where you are, what street you may be on, what shop you may be in or even where you are sleeping at night; pin pointing exact to your house. This feature runs in the background of the app meaning that although you may not necessarily be using the Snapchat app, your location services will continue to run updating everyone on your location. 

As scary as this sounds it can easily be turned off and we are encouraging all parents to work with their children to make sure this is being done. 

To access Snap Maps you’ll need to pinch the screen in the main Snapchat menu where you can see what your front or back camera is shooting. Pinch with two fingers here and you'll be pulled out to your location on a map. In the top right hand corner you’ll then see a cog icon, which is the Settings menu for Snap Maps. If you press here that will then show you an option called Ghost Mode. If you toggle that on, it will delete your last known location and make sure no-one can see your future locations either. That however does not mean Snapchat won't be able to see your location. To ensure Snapchat cannot see your location you'll need to head to the Settings menu of your Android or iOS device and make sure the app doesn't have permission to use location services.

We understand the importance of internet safety and are keen to support our parents and carers as best we can in maintaining good management and monitoring of their child/children’s online use. From September we will be holding workshops with our parents, carers and children on how to stay safe online, how to set restrictions on devices both in and out of the home and an insight into how dangerous some apps can be for children. As well as this we will be introducing parents and carers to apps that can be used to control their child’s devices and websites that allow you to set restrictions through internet service providers and even games consoles. We will also introduce an “E-Safety worry box” for the children to use to encourage them to speak about their concerns online and look for guidance rather than put themselves in harm’s way.

In the meantime we have included a useful link to a site that will inform you of the guided age for specific app use and what the specific apps are used for. We have also linked you to the Newsround description of Snap Maps and the NSPCC's opinion of it is as well as a video of the reaction from a mother and her 14 year old daughter who regularly uses Snapchat.

If you have any other concerns regarding the safety of your child/children online or would like some advice please do not hesitate to contact the school and we will guide you as best we can.