Are apps enabling unhealthy relationships in students? #esafety #safeguarding

I recently discovered Snap map and it made me feel very uncomfortable. More so because pupils really didn’t5aa9490a3be59f25008b46f6see an issue with the app. The reason I came across it was the gun walk out in America. My boarders were excited to see how many of their friends from the american exchange were protesting.

How the app works is that it can show ” your friends” where you are and what you are up to. If you are in a car for example you would be pictured in a car.  If you haven’t moved for a while or logged on and its night time, it will presume that you are asleep and put your avatar slumping in a sofa. You can add a photo or an avatar. It is precise enough that you could work out which house people are in and in some cases which room. There are hot spots that you can connect to and connect to your live stream. This could be used to show others what great things you are up to, for example a concert or a cool place. Feeding into the insecurity that everyone is having a so much better time than you. So much so that people sometimes only turn the app on every now and again so that it doesn’t show when you are just stuck at home, making you look like a busy and popular person. You can ghost yourself, so that no one can see where you are for a bit, but you can then have a look at what everyone else is up to, including your boyfriend or girlfriend. You can see if they are awake or asleep. You can see who they are with ( if you are friends with that person or their account it open). If they are in the place that you think they are. Ghosting is reflected by putting a snap map logo over the avatar face so you can see if people are on it but don’t want you to know what they are up to.  It shows when you last logged on or were active. It all sounds very controlling and scary to me. I asked pupils what about that unhealthy relationship where they stalk you and most responded, well I would shut down my settings so they couldn’t see me, and I wouldn’t let them be my friend, feeding into the idea that pupils still see strangers as the danger not their friends. I brought this up with my students, they didn’t understand my concern but they did say that they had seen the app used to sell drugs or sex. People openly suggesting place to meet or numbers to ring.

As I was writing this blog post a girl in yr8 was upset in a lesson because everyone in the tutor group had gone to a girls party last night and not her.  How did she know? Snap Map. She sat up all night watching them have fun.

 

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Assistant Head ( DSL) at a boarding school. Interested in all PSHE and safeguarding topics.

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