- Monica Almeida/Reuters
- Parents should ban their children from using Snapchat, according to England children’s commissioner Anne Longfield.
- Longfield, who speaks to policymakers on behalf of children and young people, told LBC that Snapchat had “addictive” features to encourage users to keep messaging each other.
- She said schools often banned Snapchat and that parents should follow suit.
- Snapchat is to meet with Longfield to explain aspects of its app that might be harmful to kids.
- Snapchat parent Snap said it took children’s safety seriously.
LONDON – Parents should ban their children from instant messaging app Snapchat because it’s so “addictive”, according to the woman tasked with overseeing children’s wellbeing in England.
We first saw the news via The Times.
Children’s commissioner Anne Longfield told LBC on Wednesday that more schools were banning pupils from using Snapchat during the day, and that parents should follow suit. As children’s commissioner, Longfield advocates on behalf of young people to UK politicians and is independent of the government.
“Some schools are banning Snapchat,” she said. “They won’t allow the apps on some screens – some schools have their own screens.”
She criticised Snapchat for its “streak” feature, which praises users who have messaged their friends for more than three days consecutively. Snapchat shows emojis next to a users’ names who have “streaked”, and they must keep exchanging messages within a 24-hour window to keep the streak going.
“It’s Snapchat that has particularly addictive elements where you have to streak with friends and keep friendship with them. There’s a lot to be explained there,” said Longfield.
She said Snapchat had agreed to meet her to explain aspects of its app. “These are things I will put to them.”
She concluded: “To parents, unless you’re very sure, just don’t let your kids on Snapchat.”
Longfield published a damning report last week about the negative impact of social media on children, finding that kids feel under pressure to stay on social media and to win ‘likes’ as social validation.
Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat all have a loosely enforced rule that only people aged over 13 can sign up, but the report found three-quarters of children aged between 10 and 12 have a social media account. The four most popular apps were Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, and video app Musical.ly.
Snapchat’s parent Snap defended itself in a statement to The Times, pointing out that its platform doesn’t encourage ‘likes’ from peers like Facebook and Instagram. A spokesman said: “Snapchat is a place for friends to have fun and live in the moment when talking with friends through photos and videos without the pressure of ‘comments,’ ‘likes’ or ‘shares’. We take our responsibility to create a safe and secure experience extremely seriously and continue to invest in resources to keep our community safe online.”