Police caution parents about location feature on Snapchat that could put your kids in danger

SEATTLE — It’s an app loved by millions, who post all kinds of details about their daily lives, from work, to school; some just goofin’ around. But now, some say, things may be getting a little too revealing.

A new feature on Snapchat called “Snap Map” pinpoints a user’s locations whenever and wherever the app is being used.

For Sarah Brockavich, a mom of two teens, the idea of anyone having the ability to track her kids’ locations leaves her feeling very uneasy.

“Next thing you know, you don’t have a kid anymore and it’s just scary to think about that,” Brockavich said.

“There’s a lot of predators out there who may be posing as a 15-year-old girl or boy but are really a 50-year-old sex offender that are wanting to follow people specifically for ill intentions. Now, what we’re doing is giving them the ability to track out every move by using this feature on this device,” says King County sheriff's Sgt. Cindi West.

If you’re concerned about the new feature, there are safeguards. First off, users must opt-in to “snap maps”, meaning your kid’s location won’t be shared unless they’ve chosen to do so. It’s also possible to share your location with a select few. And if you’re not comfortable with that, users can select “ghost mode,” which blocks any other users, including friends, from viewing a user’s location.

Dr. Elizabeth Meade says parents need to not only monitor kids' apps and be aware of those that can track location, but also talk to your kids about the safety concerns.

“This is something I encourage parents to start talking about super early before your child is really starting to use these things because they do need to understand there are real dangers, not to make them afraid, but to help them use media responsibly and safely,” says Meade.

Apps with similar location trackers include: Find My Friends, Facebook Messenger, Apple and Google Maps.

Eleven-year-old Emily says she’s always careful about who she adds and accepts on her profiles, but she says some kids focus more on garnering likes and comments.

“I don’t think they’re watching out to see if they’re being stalked or anything on it, so I’m careful about who I add and everything,” says Emily.