Snapchat's new feature is parents' latest safety concern

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Some people are excited about Snapchat's new feature called Snap Map, which allows friends to track the user's location. But some parents are worried about how this feature will affect privacy and safety.

Fortunately, Snapchat users can put their location settings on ghost mode, which conceals their locations while still allowing them to check Snap Map for friends' locations. There is also the option of giving certain friends, but not others, access to your location.

Because SnapChat is heavily used by children and young people, parents are urged to be aware of this and other features of social media apps. Antony Francis, with Head of Lettuce Media, said parents should continue to talk with their children as technology advances.

"I think, first and foremost, parents need to be aware of it," Francis told WFTS-TV in Tampa. "I think they’ll like it if their kids are using it properly, if they’re restricting it just to their friends. Younger kids, there is probably no good reason for them to be using it."

Francis said parents should ask their children to teach them how to use Snap Map.

"It's OK to pretend that you don’t understand, even if you might understand a little bit, get them to explain it to you to make sure they understand," Francis said.

Francis said there are a number of positives with the new feature. He said you can check where people are hanging out and that may be helpful if you are new to town or are looking for something to do.

Snaphat is hoping that the in-app map will help drive greater engagement and enable Snap to better compete against its bigger rivals, Instagram and Facebook.

Snapchat isn't the first social media app to share your location in real time. Facebook's  Nearby Friends feature works similar to Snap Map, but it does not plot locations on a map.

"That's just creepy to me," Tonya St. Clair, mother of four, told WTVC in Chattanooga, Tennessee. "I'm not going to use it, but I think that some other people may not be aware of the dangers."