The messaging app, popular with teenagers, has faced legal pressure to roll out tools so parents can keep an eye on their children's social media activity.
SAN FRANCISCO — Snapchat, the ephemeral messaging app, introduced its first parental controls on Tuesday as social media platforms face increasing scrutiny for exposing young users to potentially harmful content.
In a blog post, Snap, Snapchat's parent company, said its new tools would let parents see their teenagers' friends on the app and whom they had communicated with in the previous seven days. Parents can also report accounts that their children are friends with if they violate Snapchat's policies. Parents cannot see their children's conversations on the app.
To gain access to the controls, people must create Snapchat accounts and be friends with their children, who must agree to the controls. The company said it would introduce additional features later, including one that lets parents see whom their children recently became friends. Teenagers can also notify their parents if they report accounts or content.
These issues gained traction last year after a former Facebook employee released internal documents showing that some teenagers appeared to feel worse about themselves after using its products, such as Instagram. Executives from Instagram, Snap, TikTok and YouTube later testified in Congress over whether social media harms young people. In March, a group of state attorneys general asked Snap and TikTok to increase parental controls on their apps.
Other countries have also acted to protect young people from the effects of social media. In September, Britain instituted new child-safety regulations, which spurred platforms such as Instagram to introduce their first parental controls. Instagram's parental controls let people see and limit how much time their children spend on the app.
Snap has also recently struggled with a declining business. Last month, the company reported its slowest-ever quarterly growth amid a softening economy and challenges to its advertising business.
Snapchat's parental controls will add to existing restrictions on how teenagers can use Snapchat. For example, teenagers must be mutual friends to message each other on the app, and their profiles and friend lists are private. In addition, the app requires users to be older than 13, and teenagers cannot change their birth year in the app until they are 18.
The parental controls are available in the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. They will be available in other countries starting this fall.
Bob Thompson is our inhouse Home and Garden, Energy and Gaming news writer. Bob is keenly aware of the need to recycle. Bob has written for many online publications over the course of his writing career, before joining our team.